X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:A confidential informant told police that Leland Harold Brooks’ brother George Brooks was selling cocaine out of his hotel room. Officers went to the hotel to observe the room that was registered in George’s name. The officers observed George taking a bag from the trunk of his car into his room. Shortly thereafter, George and another man left in Leland’s car, but Leland stayed in the room. Uniformed officers followed the car and pulled the driver over for committing a traffic violation. Both George and the other man in the car were arrested for possession of marijuana found in the car. After police arrested George, the officer who was observing the hotel room knocked on the door, and Leland answered. The officer testified that, when Leland opened the door, the officer noticed a plastic bag containing a white powder on a table just inside the room. Suspecting that the plastic bag contained drugs, the officer then obtained a warrant to search the rest of the room. On a shelf in the closet, officers found the bag George had retrieved from his car, which contained more than 50 grams of cocaine, a set of scales and small plastic bags. There was also a loaded handgun in the nightstand drawer. The plastic bag that was visible when Leland opened the door was later determined to contain 19 grams of cocaine. Police charged Leland with possessing cocaine weighing more than four grams and less than 200 grams. A jury convicted Leland of the offense. Because of Leland’s two prior felony convictions, Leland received life imprisonment. In 2002, Leland filed a post-conviction application for a writ of habeas corpus. A court denied the application without written order. Leland filed a subsequent habeas application. Leland argued that he was entitled to a new trial based on his claim of actual innocence, because he was denied his constitutional right to confront the state’s confidential informant, who was mentioned in the testimony of the arresting officer, and because newly discovered evidence previously unavailable to him demonstrated that there was never a confidential informant against him. Leland further stated that he was an innocent bystander and was merely present in another defendant’s residence where cocaine and a firearm were concealed without his knowledge. The newly discovered evidence put forth by Leland was an affidavit from his brother George. The affidavit states that George Brooks was the sole resident of the apartment and that he was the sole owner of the handgun and of the cocaine that the police found when they searched his apartment. HOLDING:The Court of Criminal Appeals denied Leland’s subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus. The CCA filed and set Leland’s case to explain the application of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 11.07, �4(a)(2), which states that a subsequent application for habeas corpus relief must contain sufficient specific facts establishing by a preponderance of evidence that, but for a constitutional violation, no rational juror would have found applicant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Art. 11.07, �4(a), the CCA stated, prohibits review of subsequent applications for writ of habeas corpus except in limited circumstances. The applicant must establish that: the current claims and issues “have not been and could not have been presented previously in an original application or in a previously considered application filed under this article because the factual or legal basis for the claim was unavailable on the date the application filed the previous application”; or “by a preponderance of evidence, but for a violation of the U.S. Constitution no rational juror could have found the applicant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” The subsequent-application provision, the CCA stated, adopts the abuse-of-the-writ doctrine used in federal practice, which limits an inmate to one application for writ of habeas corpus except in exceptional circumstances. In federal practice, the court stated, a repeat habeas petitioner must show that a constitutional violation more likely than not resulted in the conviction of an innocent person. The CCA stated: “[F]or us to review applications lacking a prima facie claim of actual innocence re-opens the door to potential abuse of the writ and ignores society’s interest in finality of judgment.” Thus, the CCA held that under �4, it could not consider the merits of a repeat habeas application unless it included sufficient specific facts establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that, but for a constitutional violation, no rational juror would have found the habeas applicant guilty. The CCA stated that “this necessarily includes a prima facie showing of actual innocence in order for the applicant to demonstrate that the constitutional violation at his trial resulted in a miscarriage of justice.” This showing, the CCA stated, allows it to consider a constitutional claim which otherwise would have been barred by �4. In Leland’s case, Leland stated that he is actually innocent, “that he was an innocent bystander and had no knowledge of drugs and a firearm,” and that “parts of the trial record would clearly demonstrate and prove Petitioner’s actual innocence.” But the CCA stated that “this is not enough for us to consider the merits of his application.” Leland, the CCA held, does not meet the threshold requirement of showing that a constitutional violation led to a miscarriage of justice as a result of the incarceration of someone who is actually innocent. Thus, Leland failed to make a prima facie claim of actual innocence in addition to his constitutional claims. OPINION:Meyers, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Keller, P.J., and Price, Johnson, Keasler, Hervey, Holcomb and Cochran, J.J., joined. CONCURRENCE:Womack, J. concurred without a written opinion.

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

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* 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 © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.