For some reason the distinction between legal and factual sufficiency seems easier to understand in civil cases. The reasoning in Rollerson on the other hand escapes me. There was "some" evidence from which the trier of fact could determine the defendant entered the Hines' house, but it was not enough ("too weak") to "support" a finding that the defendant was the guilty party. The court mentions "the evidence to the contrary" of the finding, but never describes it. Seems to me the only way the evidence is legally sufficient is if you infer he exercised control over the room where the stolen property was found and that it was Hines' coins that he "exchanged" with the acquaintance. But, is the court saying those same inferences are not permissible for purposes of factual sufficiency?
Personally I think the trial judge got it right and that the similarities between the burglaries was more than generic. But, at least now I will have a good reason to reject those burglary cases that depend exclusively on not so recent and not so unexplained possession of the property that the police seem so fond of bringing to us.
Having just come out on the wrong side of a factual sufficiency argument, I can only hope the CCA does away with this ridiculous distinction. Either there is enough evidence to convict someone, or there isn't. Don't even get me started...
Posts: 70 | Location: Sinton, Texas, USA | Registered: January 20, 2005
I agree with Martin that factual sufficiency is a better fit in civil cases. Specifically, in the area of damages. Most damages awards are simply abstract factual determinations or judgment values by a fact finder. For example, a plaintiff suffered $1.2 million worth of pain and suffering. Elements of an offense, by contrast, are discrete factual issues--the defendant caused a death, or he did not.
With an abstract issue, it is much easier to say that there is some evidence of an issue, but not enough to support the amount. Example: $1 billion in pain and suffering damages for finding a finger in your chilli at Wendy's, or $1 billion in actual damages to the lawyer whose finger was cut off and ended up in the chilli.
Whether or not there was a finger in the chilli, or that someone cut off the lawyer's finger, is a discrete issue, and it is doubtful that any evidence supporting such a finding could ever be factually insufficient.
Posts: 2020 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001
The need for factual sufficiency review was explained to me once something like this: A crack ho accuses a defendant, a seminarian, of sexually assaulting her. She IDs the defendant in court unequivocally. She says the assault occurred at midnight on Monday. But 12 nuns testify that defendant was playing Texas Hold'em with them at midnight on Monday. The jury convicts. Legally sufficient, of course. But do you feel GOOD about it?
What bugs me is the courts always insisting they aren't substituting their judgment for the jury's. In one breath, the court will say evidence can be factually insufficient because the contrary evidence is so strong. In the next breath, the court will say the jury is the sole judge of credibility. Well, if the jury came back guilty, then it obviously felt that all that strong evidence was not credible. But never mind that.
Posts: 39 | Location: Crockett, Texas, USA | Registered: January 04, 2005
Crack hos can be victims, preachers can be violent, and nuns who obviously have a gambling problem shouldn't be trusted anyway.
I don't think it's our job to decide if we feel good about it. It's our job to decide if there's enough evidence to support the conclusion the jury came to, whether we agree with it or not. I've yet to see a factual sufficiency analysis that doesn't question the jury's findings of credibility and weight. I don't think it makes sense. But until the CCA comes to ask me my opinion before writing theirs, I'll keep toiling along with the standard we have.
There is no need for this type of review. If the court can't stomach a conviction in a situation like that discussed above, they should just hold their nose do it under the Jackson standard. Especially now that they have the actual innocence writ--Elizondo was adopted after Clewis.
[This message was edited by John Rolater on 07-30-06 at .]
Posts: 2020 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001
The application of factual sufficiency review is a result of constitutional accident. When the Texas Constitution was amended years ago to expand criminal jurisdiction to the intermediate courts of appeals, it dragged along a little noticed provision that gave intermediate courts the final word on factual sufficiency. A reasonable person might have thought that the public did not make a deliberate decision to drag along factual sufficiency review. But, nooooooo, we just gotta have it.
Someday, somewhere, someone will do the right thing and realize just how ridiculous it is. Until then, we all pretend.
John Bradley District Attorney Williamson County, Texas
We've have a case under submission at the cca for about 15 months where we're begging them to overrule State v. Ibarra, 953 S.W.2d 242 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997) (imposing BRD standard on voluntariness of consent).
Posts: 523 | Location: Fort Worth, Texas, | Registered: May 23, 2001
A jury operates under the presumption of innocence. If the State convinces 12 (or 6) persons beyond a reasonable doubt, then it must still satisfy the highly skeptical, but reasonable reviewing judges that the State built a bridge (albeit with less than perfect pillars) that enable at least two of them to jump to the conclusion reached by the jury. Valle Will the CCA take Chief Justice Quinn's nudge, and let jurors do their job? I get the feeling the court decided the case as it did exclusively as a challenge to the higher court.
Well, at least the clarified standard can make a difference in the outcome at the intermediate level. Watson III. I still have to wonder how merely conflicting inferences (if that is all there ever was) gave rise to insufficiency in the first place. Poor Watson, got caught with his pants down in the end.
It will never make any sense. Evidence can be sufficient that any rational jury could have found someone guilt. That same evidence can then be declared insufficient because a separate group reacts in a manner that decides it is against the great weight of the evidence.
The only way that can make sense is if you allow the second group to make their own decision regarding the credibility of the witnesses. And that's just unAmerican.
That's always been the problem with factual sufficiency--the facts are legally sufficient, so to overturn the case you have to declare that twelve jurors all acted irrationally. I've had some crazy jurors before, but never twelve in the same case.
How can you possibly work with a set of rules that establishes such sanctity in the jury, but at the same time proposes any likelihood that all twelve members of a jury are irrational? And what is it about getting elected to the court of appeals that establishes the presumption that one is more rational than the collective reason of 12 citizens?
It looks to me like the CCA has determined to review its holding in Clewis. PDR was granted in Grotti on April 25. PD No. 07-0134. Good luck Tarrant County! Unfortunately, the decision in Rollerson was affirmed.
In another case from Tarrant County, the State acknowledged evidence that was legally sufficient could be and was factually insufficient (resulting in the reversal of a second degree conviction). Garza It is hard (for me) to understand exactly what is at work.
Martin, the State's concession is, indeed, strange. So, a rational jury may infer that the knife was dangerous beyond a reasonable doubt. But, that same jury would be creating a manifest injustice by doing the same.
Some day. Some where. Some judge will state the obvious: the Emperor has no clothes.
I suppose the State could have made the concession to create a case requiring the CCA to squarely face the issue of whether Clueless should be overruled. If that is the strategy, why would the State expect the CCA to grant review in a case in which the State conceded insufficient evidence on a factual review?