Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Sept. 3, 2002, an El Paso County grand jury returned an indictment charging Cruzata with indecency with a child. On July 22, 2003, Cruzata pleaded guilty to the offense charged, pursuant to a plea bargain, and the trial court placed him on deferred-adjudication community supervision for 10 years. On June 29, 2004, the state filed a motion to proceed with an adjudication of Cruzata’s guilt, alleging that he had violated the conditions of his community supervision. On Sept. 24, 2004, the trial court held a hearing on the state’s motion. At that hearing, Cruzata pleaded true to the state’s allegations. The trial court accepted Cruzata’s plea, found that he had violated the conditions of his community supervision, adjudicated his guilt of the primary offense and assessed his punishment at imprisonment for seven years. A few minutes later, the trial court, after being reminded by the state that applicant had “a very extensive history . . . of extraneous offenses,” announced that it was “going to withdraw” its assessment of punishment and “reset [the hearing] for sentencing at a later date.” Cruzata objected to the trial court’s withdrawal of its assessment of punishment, but the trial court overruled his objection. On Oct. 8, 2004, the trial court held another hearing in this case and, after hearing argument, sentenced Cruzata to 15 years of imprisonment. Cruzata did not appeal. On Sept. 14, 2005, Cruzata filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in the trial court, arguing, inter alia, that his 15-year sentence was improper. On March 10, 2006, at a habeas hearing, Cruzata argued to the trial court that “it’s always been the rule, [in both] civil and criminal [law], that once you pronounce [the sentence], that’s it, that’s the sentence.” On May 25, 2006, the trial court recommended to the Court of Criminal Appeals that it deny habeas relief. In its findings of fact and conclusions of law, the trial court concluded that, “[b]ecause applicant could have appealed the sentencing portion of his judgment, and he did not, he cannot raise a complaint regarding sentencing for the first time in [an application for] writ of habeas corpus.” On Sept. 27, 2006, the CCA ordered Cruzata’s application filed and set for submission to consider his claim that his 15-year sentence was improper. HOLDING:The court dismissed Cruzata’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus, the CCA stated, is an extraordinary remedy and is available only when there is no other adequate remedy at law. Consequently, the court stated, habeas corpus may not be used to assert claims that could have been asserted on direct appeal. Nothing prevented Cruzata from appealing from his 15-year sentence and asserting that it was improper. Therefore, Cruzata may not now assert that claim via habeas corpus. Nonetheless, the CCA stated that even if it “were to consider the merits of [Cruzata's] claim, he would not prevail on it.” The CCA noted that in its 1933 opinion Powell v. State, it stated that a trial court may revise, correct or vacate a sentence before the defendant begins to serve that sentence. In addition, the CCA stated that in its 2005 opinion State v. Aguilera, it held that a trial court may modify a sentence “if the modification is made on the same day as the assessment of that sentence and before court adjourns for the day.” Implicit in that holding, the court stated, is that a defendant begins to serve his sentence at the adjournment of court on the day that the sentence is assessed. In reading Powell and Aguilera together, the CCA stated that “it is clear that the trial court’s actions in this case were proper.” OPINION:Holcomb, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Keller, P.J., and Price, Womack, Johnson, Hervey, and Cochran, J.J., joined. CONCURRENCE:Keasler, J., concurred in the result without a written opinion. DISSENT:Meyers, J., filed a dissenting opinion. “I’m not sure why we still have the writ of habeas corpus since we keep whittling away its uses. “In [1994's] Ex Parte Drake, we stated that habeas corpus should generally not be used to re-litigate matters which were addressed on appeal. . . . More recently we have said that habeas corpus may not be used to assert claims that could have been asserted on direct appeal. . . . This implies that anything that could have been raised on direct appeal-whether it was actually raised or not-is now forbidden from habeas corpus relief. However, we routinely say that an application for writ of habeas corpus is a better vehicle for us to review ineffective assistance of counsel claims even though such claims could be raised on direct appeal. So what is the writ of habeas corpus for these days? “It is not just for newly discovered evidence and ineffective assistance claims. In [1991's] Ex Parte Goodman . . . we stated that, although habeas corpus is traditionally unavailable to review matters which were raised and rejected on appeal, claims involving jurisdictional defects or invoking fundamental constitutional rights may be raised. “I disagree with the majority’s statement that habeas corpus may not be used to assert claims that could have been raised on direct appeal. While the writ is an extraordinary remedy, it is simply not true that habeas relief is limited to claims involving issues that could not have been raised on direct appeal. We should not use the fact that an issue was not raised on direct appeal as a procedural bar. Therefore, I respectfully dissent.”

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.