The CCA is accepting fewer cases for discretionary review. This has helped it become as current on its docket as at any time I remember. No case on its PDR docket has been pending (awaiting decision) longer than Leonard (PD-0551-10),in which review was granted on 09-29-10. And only three cases on its PDR docket arrived there more than a year ago. I am uncertain whether this is reducing the average or mean times between submission and issuance of an opinion, but it seems like that should be true also. Some have suggested the CCA should try to dispose of cases on a "term" basis like the Supreme Court of the United States. Maybe some changes approaching that method are now within reach.
An update: The court has presumably concluded its grants of review until after the summer "recess." As of today, it has only 68 granted PDRs pending. While three have been awaiting decision for more than a year, more than 82% of those pending were granted review less than six months ago.
As of today there were only 50 pending cases in which discretionary review had been granted. That could easily be a record low number. And the oldest, but yet undecided, case (Jacobs, PD-1411-16) has been on the docket for only just over 17 months. In 26 of the 50 cases, review was granted less than six months ago. Exactly what all has driven this progress toward timely resolution of PDRs remains unclear, but it seems to be a good development. 54% of the pending cases involve review granted at the request of the State.
My first thought would be to look at the number of PDR's granted in the last year or two. If they are granting less than normal then that would explain why there would be less pending. Just my initial thought.
The OCA tracks stats for all the appellate courts, and the legislature pays attention to disposition rates and time to dispose of cases. Disposing of cases in a timely fashion is a good thing--justice delayed is justice denied. That said, I wish we could get more time from the CCA for briefing.
Posts: 2137 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001
To update from Sept., 2018: The number of pending cases, not yet decided, involving convictions has now dropped to just 44 (excluding any companion cases). Review was granted at the request of the State in 26 or 57.7% of those. The oldest case has been under submission for 39 months. That is a bit strange since it involves only a single issue of statutory interpretation (whether §38.04(a), P.C., as amended in 1994, requires proof that a fleeing suspect must know whether his arrest would be lawful). Equally strange is that it took over 23 years for the issue to reach the high court. But the language chosen by the Texas legislature differed significantly from the Model Penal Code which said the conduct needed only to be “for the purpose of preventing a public servant from effecting a lawful arrest or discharging any other duty.” Moreover, while the language, before the mentioned amendment, only required knowledge that “a peace officer was attempting to arrest him,” it also specifically provided that there was an exception if the officer’s attempt was “unlawful.” The elimination the exception language in 1994 likely explains why the lawfulness concept was moved into the definition of the offense. But the CCA seems unable to make any determination (even though the court of appeals already determined the State’s evidence was sufficient to prove the attempt was lawful in this instance). Another unusual aspect of the court’s pending PDR docket is found in Curipoma, PD-0159-22, under submission since November 16, 2022. There Curipoma has stated that the only disagreement among the parties is whether a court in Travis County could rule on the merits of his constructive confinement in Kinney County. The CCA ruled on December 7, 2022 in another case that when a habeas petition is filed in a “distant” county the writ should be made returnable to the place of confinement and the merits resolved there. That holding was reaffirmed in In re Iracheta, No. WR-94,726-01 on June 28, 2023. It is thus difficult to see how the court could fail to overturn the decision of the Austin Court of Appeals in Curipoma. Perhaps it hopes the county attorney will abandon his effort to prosecute, making the issue moot.