Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The appellant was convicted in May 2002 of capital murder. Texas Penal Code �19.03(a). The trial judge sentenced the appellant to death. The appellant raises five points of error with numerous subpoints. HOLDING:Affirmed. The appellant wanted to inform the prospective jurors that two-thirds of the members of the parole board must vote in favor of releasing an inmate on parole, after first receiving a copy of a report on the probability that the inmate would commit another offense upon release pursuant too Texas Government Code �508.046. The appellant then sought to ask the prospective jurors whether they could “consider and give full deliberation to the parole board requirements for release.” The appellant argues that the recent legislative changes now allow the jury to be informed that a capital-murder inmate is not eligible for parole until he has served 40 calendar years, which opens the door for full consideration by the jury of any procedures relating to parole and the parole board under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071 �2(e)(2)(B). The appellant argues that without full information regarding the parole process, “a juror lacks the basis to make a meaningful decision on whether life without parole is a suitable punishment.” This court has historically held that parole is not a proper matter for jury consideration and therefore the trial court does not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow voir dire inquiries regarding parole. Feldman v. State, 71 S.W.3d 738 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002). Effective Sept. 1, 1999, Article 37.071 was amended to provide that a jury may now be instructed on a capital defendant’s eligibility for parole, as follows: “Under the law applicable in this case, if the defendant is sentenced to imprisonment in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life, the defendant will become eligible for release on parole, but not until the actual time served by the defendant equals 40 years, without consideration of any good conduct time. It cannot accurately be predicted how the parole laws might be applied to this defendant if the defendant is sentenced to a term of imprisonment for life because the application of those laws will depend on decisions made by prison and parole authorities, but eligibility for parole does not guarantee that parole will be granted.” However, this provision is narrowly drawn and does not render every aspect of parole law an issue for jury consideration. The provision expressly discourages speculation on the parole process by providing that application of the parole laws cannot be accurately predicted “because the application of those laws will depend on decisions made by prison and parole authorities.” The Legislature could have written the 1999 amendments more broadly to impart more information but chose not to. Precedent maintaining that parole is not a proper issue for jury consideration remains in effect except to the extent explicitly provided for in Article 37.071 �2(e)(2)(B). The court overrules the appellant’s other assertions of error. OPINION:Meyers, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Price, Johnson, Keasler, Hervey, Holcomb and Cochran, JJ., join. Keller, P.J., concurred in point of error five and otherwise joins the opinion of the Court. Womack, J., concurred.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.