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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Daniel E. Igo, appellant, was a teacher in Odessa. On Jan. 28, 2000, he and a 15-year-old female student drove to Lubbock. While in Lubbock, they had sex at a motel, and it is that incident which gave rise to the current prosecution. In the punishment phase charge at appellant’s trial for sexual assault, the jury was erroneously instructed that appellant would not become eligible for parole until the actual time served, plus good time, equaled one-fourth of the sentence imposed. The jury, however, should have been instructed that appellant would not become eligible for parole until the actual time served, without considering good time, equaled one-half of the sentence imposed, according to the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) opinion. Appellant did not object to the charge at trial. After verdict, he filed a motion for new trial, claiming that the trial court “misdirected” the jury about the law. The trial court denied the motion. On appeal, he claimed that Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 21.3(b) required the trial court to grant the motion for new trial. The court of appeals held that Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 36.19, as interpreted by the CCA in Almanza v. State, 686 S.W.2d 157 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984), dictated the proper analysis for the claim presented. Applying the Almanza “egregious harm” analysis, the appellate court found the error to be harmless. On discretionary review, appellant argues that Rule 21.3(b) required the trial judge to grant his motion for new trial because the court “misdirected” the jury on the law in this case, and, consequently, the denial of his motion for new trial was an abuse of discretion. He then infers that an appellate court must reverse the case on this basis. In the alternative, he contends that the court of appeals conducted an erroneous “egregious harm” analysis under Almanza. HOLDING:Affirmed. Rule 21.3 provides in relevant part that a defendant must be granted a new trial when the trial court has misdirected the jury about the law or has committed some other material error likely to injure the defendant’s rights. The CCA disagreed with Igo’s contention that this language affords him appellate relief solely on the basis that the trial court “misdirected the jury.” Even though appellant characterized his claim as error in denying a new trial, this case presents error in the charge, the CCA stated. Thus, the court found that the proper standard is Art. 36.19, as construed in Almanza. First, the court stated that a statute (in this case, Art. 36.19) cannot be superceded by a rule (Rule 21.3). Next, the court stated that if Igo was correct, then defendants would no longer be required to preserve a jury-charge error at trial, so long as the issue was raised in a motion for new trial, because any error in the charge could be said to “misdirect” the jury. That result contradicts the policy of encouraging the timely correction of errors, which is embodied both in Art. 36.19 and in our own rules of appellate procedure. Appellant’s reasoning, the court further stated, would essentially exempt any jury-charge error from any sort of harmless-error analysis even when the erroneous instruction might have been fixed had the defendant brought the error to the trial court’s attention. Such a result would essentially eviscerate the two-tiered harm analysis required by statute and do away with the requirement that egregious harm be shown when the defendant has failed to timely urge an objection. The court also disagreed with appellant’s contention that the court of appeals misapplied Almanza’s “egregious harm” standard. Although appellant, the court stated, received the maximum sentence, a number of other factors mitigated against a finding of egregious harm, including: 1. The parole instruction contained the standard curative language admonishing the jury not to consider the extent to which the parole law might be applied to the defendant; 2. Parole was not mentioned by either counsel during argument on punishment; and 3. The evidence relating to punishment was exceptionally strong. The jury, the court found, could have viewed the sexual assault here as especially heinous because the victim was one of Igo’s students, and so the conduct was an abuse of Igo’s position as a teacher. Moreover, the court noted, the evidence showed that appellant had asked another female student to take a trip with him to Lubbock. Most importantly, the court stated, appellant continued a sexual relationship with the victim even after he was indicted, and he even tried to bribe her to drop the charges. OPINION:Keller, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Price, Womack, Johnson, Keasler, Hervey, and Cochran, J.J., joined. DISSENT:Meyers, J., filed a dissenting opinion. “I disagree with the majority’s use of the Almanza egregious harm standard in analyzing this claim . . . The issue is whether the court misdirected the jury about the law. No harm analysis is required. If the trial court misdirected the jury about the law then the defendant must be granted a new trial. “The court of appeals should have focused on whether the trial court abused its discretion in failing to grant a new trial. Rather than applying the Almanza harm analysis, the court of appeals should have considered whether the instruction misled the jury. If it did, Rule of Appellate Procedure 21.3(b) requires the granting of a new trial. “What is the point of Rule 21.3(b) if a judge can incorrectly instruct the jury regarding the law and then the court of appeals applies Almanza and finds no harm? The majority says that a statute cannot be superceded by a rule. I feel that the majority is allowing a case to supercede a rule.” Holcomb, J., dissented without an opinion.

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