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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities charged Shannon Mark Douthit with capital murder. The indictment alleged that Douthit knowingly and intentionally shot two individuals with a handgun during the same criminal transaction on or about Dec. 13, 1986. On May 29, 1987, Douthit waived a jury trial and pleaded guilty to the charge as alleged in the indictment. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the state, the trial judge sentenced Douthit to a term of life imprisonment and entered an affirmative deadly weapon finding. Having waived his right to appeal, Douthit did not appeal. Almost 18 years after he entered his guilty plea and was sentenced, Douthit filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus alleging, among other things, that when he pleaded guilty, the applicable law “did not allow a defendant to waive the right to a jury trial in a capital case.” Before Sept. 1, 1991, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 1.14 provided that a “defendant in a criminal prosecution for any offense may waive any rights secured him by law except the right of trial by jury in a capital felony case.” Citing Court of Criminal Appeals decisions where that court granted relief to habeas applicants on the same claim that Douthit raised in this case, the trial judge concluded that Douthit was entitled to relief, because his judgment and sentence were void. The CCA filed and set the case to determine if Douthit was entitled to relief. HOLDING:The CCA denied Douthit’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus, the CCA stated, is available only for relief from jurisdictional defects and violations of constitutional or fundamental rights. The CCA found that newer cases overruled the precedents that Douthit relied on in his petition. The violations of Arts. 1.13 and 1.14 in Douthit’s case, the CCA stated, were not jurisdictional defects or constitutional or fundamental errors. Rather, the CCA stated that they were statutory violations. Douthit, the CCA stated, merely asserted an inconsistency with the procedure required by the statute and did not allege nor present any evidence that he desired to exercise his constitutional right to a trial by jury or that the trial judge’s acceptance of his waiver violated this right. OPINION:Keasler, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Keller, P.J., and Meyers, Womack, Hervey and Cochran, J.J., joined. DISSENT:Price, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Holcomb, J., joined. “If the applicant’s claim does not constitute a legislatively recognized”fundamental’ defect, cognizable in post-conviction habeas corpus proceedings, it is hard to imagine any legislative mandate that ever could. The Court has seemingly excluded the Legislature from the process of defining”absolute requirements or prohibitions’ (less than jurisdictional), and thus taken it out of our habeas corpus jurisprudence altogether. I would hold that the applicant’s claim remains cognizable in a post-conviction application for writ of habeas corpus, and grant relief. Because the Court does not, I respectfully dissent.” Johnson, J., filed a dissenting opinion. “Applicant also raised four additional claims: ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal; fundamentally defective information; involuntary guilty plea; and involuntary confession. Those issues have not been investigated and addressed. I would remand those issues to the trial court for a hearing. Because the Court does not do so, I respectfully dissent.”

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