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Discovery in Habeas Proceedings

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http://tdcaa.infopop.net/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/257098965/m/4047077616

March 20, 2019, 15:52
L Pence
Discovery in Habeas Proceedings
A defendant has filed an Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus for a conviction from 14 years ago. The Court issued an order requesting affidavits, depositions and/or interrogatories. The Applicant's attorney has now served me with Request for Admissions, Interrogatories and Request for Disclosures, although she did not serve me with the initial application. The statute says that the State is not required to file an answer but are we required to respond to discovery request? And how can I answer them when I was not the prosecuting attorney at the time? Anybody have information on how this should work?
March 24, 2019, 08:38
Martin Peterson
I presume you refer to an application for relief under art. 11.072. I do not believe this constitutes "an action of a civil nature," as spoken of in TRCP 2. Nevertheless, 11.072, sec. 6(b) does seem to adopt some of the devices used for pretrial discovery in civil cases (if the court so chooses, as stated in Cummings, 169 S.W.3d at 757). Moreover, sec. 4(a) says the writ issues "by operation of law," even though there is also a provision for denial of the application (on its face) in sec. 7(a).

Sec. 6(b) is an oddity. It implies that while there may be no hearing on the application scheduled or required, depositions and interrogatories may be ordered (presumably to produce the evidence upon which the application will be granted or denied-- something which must occur within 60 days if the State has chosen to file an answer).

All of this presents questions about the scope of the discovery, who must pay the costs, whether TRCP 215 applies, etc. What seems clear is that art. 39.14 is not the controlling statute. I do not think caselaw has answered these questions. I do note that "requests for admissions or disclosures" are not mentioned in the statute (nor presumably in your court order). Of course, it further seems any interrogatories or depositions would need to be directed to persons with personal knowledge of the issues, otherwise the responses will likely simply be "unknown to me."