Editor’s note: What follows are summaries of state and federal appellate court opinions issued from Feb. 1 to Feb. 7. The list is organized by court and practice area. Names of the cases below are linked to full-text opinions.
Texas Supreme Court
Rodriguez-Escobar v. Goss
Feb. 1, 2013; No. 10-0511
The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment awarding damages allegedly resulting from a doctor’s failure to hospitalize a patient who later committed suicide. The plaintiffs reference no evidence that hospitalization would have prevented the patient’s suicide except for whatever time period she was hospitalized. The court of appeals judgment is reversed and rendered.
Courts of Criminal Appeals
Jacobson v. State
Feb. 6, 2013; No. PD-1466-11
The court of appeals held that, under the judicially created De Garmo doctrine as modified by Leday, appellant was estopped from complaining about the state’s jury argument during the guilt phase because he later had admitted his guilt. A defendant who testifies at the punishment stage of trial and admits his guilt does not forfeit his right to complain on appeal about errors occurring during the guilt stage. The court of appeals’ judgment is reversed and remanded.
Everitt v. State
Feb. 6, 2013; No. PD-1693-11
The court of appeals held that appellant did not properly preserve his assertion of error concerning the admission of evidence of alleged drug use. The court of appeals erred by distinguishing between admitting scientific evidence and admitting expert testimony under Texas Rule of Evidence 702. Both relevance and reliability of the expert testimony are components of a trial court’s Daubert/Kelly ruling on admissibility. The court of appeals judgment is reversed and remanded.
Courts of Appeals — Civil
Delfingen US-Texas LP v. Valenzuela
El Paso Court of Appeals
Feb. 6, 2013; No. 08-12-00022-CV
Delfingen US-Texas LP appeals an order denying its motion to compel arbitration in this employment dispute. The trial court found that Delfingen did not explain, discuss or translate the arbitration agreement. The trial court could have also found that Delfingen affirmatively misled the employee about the importance of the agreement. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the employee carried her burden of proving that the agreement is procedurally unconscionable. The trial court’s denial is affirmed.
In the Interest of D.R.J. and T.F.J.
Fort Worth Court of Appeals
Feb. 7, 2013; No. 02-12-00075-CV
The appellant challenges the trial court’s order terminating her parental rights to two children. Texas Family Code §161.001(1)(O) does not require that the parent who failed to comply with a court order be the same person whose abuse or neglect of the child warranted the child’s removal. The trial court’s order is affirmed.
In the Matter of G.W.
El Paso Court of Appeals
Feb. 6, 2013; No. 08-11-00114-CV
The appellant challenges the trial court’s order of adjudication and commitment to the Texas Youth Commission. The evidence is both legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court’s findings that appellant violated a reasonable and lawful court order and to support modification of the trial court’s disposition. The trial court’s judgment is affirmed.
Courts of Appeals — Criminal
Fisher v. State
Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals
Feb. 7, 2013; No. 14-11-01030-CR
The appellant challenges her conviction for alleged aggravated assault of a peace officer. She argues, inter alia, that the trial court reversibly erred by providing the jury with a definition of voluntary intoxication in the charge. There was a clear possibility for juror confusion regarding whether appellant was intoxicated at the time of the offense and how intoxication might affect her culpability. The trial court’s judgment is affirmed.
Roberts v. State
Fort Worth Court of Appeals
Feb. 7, 2013; No. 02-11-00500-CV
The pro se appellant appeals the trial court’s withdrawal order requiring him to pay attorney fees for his court-appointed trial attorney despite a finding of indigency. Given that the appellant remains in TDCJ custody while on parole and that the trial court’s order would still be effective to collect court costs from the appellant’s inmate trust account should he return to prison, the issue is not moot. The trial court’s order is modified to delete the requirement of repayment of attorney fees.
5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
In Re: Sepulvado
Feb. 7, 2013; No. 13-30058
The appellant appeals an order transferring his second-in-time petition for writ of habeas corpus, amended motion to appoint counsel, and motion to stay his execution. Martinez does not extend to circumstances in which the state permitted a defendant to raise ineffectiveness-of-trial-counsel claims on direct appeal. The order of transfer is affirmed, habeas petition is dismissed, an amended motion to appoint counsel is dismissed, the stay of execution is denied, and a request for a certificate of appeal is dismissed.
Abraham v. Alpha Chi Omega
Feb. 7, 2013; No. 12-10525
The plaintiffs appeal the district court’s rejection of their motion for judgment as a matter of law and the scope of an injunction in this alleged trademark infringement case. The district court did not abuse its discretion by relying on Conan Properties to use the "degree of prejudice" test in fashioning injunctive relief. The district court’s judgment and injunction are affirmed.