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I am responsible for all felony cases for three counties in a five county district, from post-intake through any appeals. I am being bombarded with inmate writs, some of which are totally outlandish (ie: "the State could not prosecute me because I have sovereign immunity because I was created in God's image. He is Sovereign, therefore, I am Sovereign, and the State did not have jurisdiction to prosecute me.")

I do not want to acquire a reputation with the Court of Criminal Appeals for being lazy, but responding to some of these things appears to be a gross waste of time.

My question is this: Does your office answer ALL writs? Do you file a general denial only or do you respond to the different "bases" of the writ? I know that it's going to depend upon what the writ claims, but where do you draw the line?
Also, what can be done when an inmate abuses the writ process by filing too many writs?

I am registered to attend the criminal appeals seminar next week and I hope some of my questions will be answered there. In the meantime, I need to respond to two writs I received yesterday, one of which makes the sovereign immunity claim.

Thanks for any and all "advice."
 
Posts: 34 | Location: 112th Judicial District | Registered: March 29, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have thought of a general denial type response but was afraid they would start requiring evidentary hearings which would be worse. We are having a terrible problem with them too and simply do not have the time waste on them. I hope you find a solution.
 
Posts: 106 | Registered: January 29, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We answer all writs, but I have a couple standardized responses for claims such as yours. The most common problem that inmates face is the fact that the burden is theirs to prove a redressable wrong. Furthermore, their sworn allegations alone do not suffice. Most complaints can be procedurally barred by citing the proper few cases on that point. Email me with a fax number and I would be happy to send you a couple samples.

I have always understood that the attorneys in Austin reading these writs for the Court of Criminal Appeals appreciate it when we give them a leg up by providing a concise, legible response. We need not belabor the point, but instead show the error of the applicant's ways on most writs. Makes it that much easier for a denial of relief and needn't take too much of our time.
 
Posts: 374 | Location: Houston, TX | Registered: July 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We respond to every writ. In addition, we work to obtain affidavits from witnesses and submit them with a proposed finding of fact and conclusion of law favoring denial of the writ.

In the long run, we have avoided evidentiary hearings and litigation. But, it does take someone staying on top of it all the time. I used to do it myself and now have Doug Arnold do it for our office. I suggest you give him a call (512-943-1234) for forms, case cites and general suggestions.

The staff attorneys for the Court of Criminal Appeals do appreciate the extra effort. It smooths out the process and usually results in a white post card denial within 30 days.

John Bradley
District Attorney
Williamson County, Texas
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Laurie, glad to hear you will be at the criminal appeals seminar. I am going there also. I will get together with you and talk to you about habeas writs from my experience with the Attorney General's office.

Patricia
 
Posts: 419 | Location: Abilene, TX USA | Registered: December 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Laurie, we're answering all of them, but the persons involved make extensive use of "efficient drafting practices." Maybe that could be the next TDCAA bank . . .

On a lighter note, perhaps a bailiff might give you an affidavit that he observed the defendant and that he appeared to be a normal human being rather than a deity.
 
Posts: 2135 | Location: McKinney, Texas, USA | Registered: February 15, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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We have developed a system attempting to sort the wheat from the chaff with regard to the facially meritless, frivolous, and inane brand of writ allegations. We file a check-boxed form indicating several common grounds for summary disposition, e.g. failure to comply with �4 or submit the claim through the time credit dispute resolution office (mostly for the purpose of educating the court). Where appropriate an explanatory sentence and citation can be added.

Claims we deem to need more than a sentence to dismiss, we answer; although, we try only to designate if an order appears to be necessary. The system works well for our small appellate section. What those at the Court think, I cannot be sure: I�ve fielded jokes about laziness, but those who work at the Court also understand that a certain amount of advocacy is involved in making the initial decision of how to field a writ response. I spent 3.5 years as a staff-attorney in the writ section at the Court, most of which was prior to the law requiring the State to respond. I can assure you that the lack of a detailed response on legal issues, such as the sovereign immunity of an inmate, will not unduly impact the staff�s ability to assess the merits of the claim. Thus, our approach has been to focus on assuring that the trial court resolves any factual issue that could entitle the applicant to relief appropriately.
 
Posts: 43 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: December 03, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for your responses. I've received a VERY helpful outline and copies of State Responses that are better than anything I've seen to date. A data base would be fabulous!!! We could easily adopt the "outline form" for case law relevant to issues we've previously responded to and submit additions as new issues arise. An outline that keeps us current and a concise "format" for responses would be time-efficient for all of us.

Let me run another scenario past you: Defendant (Cuban-National) pleads guilty to theft in November 1985, just a few months after the admonishment concerning citizenship became mandatory. Defendant served three year term and now wants to avoid deportation and/or gain citizenship. His attorney tells me he cannot be deported, but will be incarcerated for six months, then set free. (My thought is, let him do the six months. Defendant has not been the model citizen since this offense, although nothing major.)

No admonishment was included on paperwork on file with the court; all court personnel have NO recollection of whether or not a verbal admonishment was given and the court reporter notes are long gone since more than 17 years have passed. In my response to the writ I claimed laches under Exparte Carrio. Now we are required to have a hearing, findings of fact, etc.

Does laches truly apply in this context from your research/experience? Carrio deals with an ineffective assistance claim, not a questionable/potentially missing admonishment. If I'm swimming upstream without hope, I'd like to know so I don't waste the court's time.
 
Posts: 34 | Location: 112th Judicial District | Registered: March 29, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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By the way, Roe Wilson of Harris County is working on a book for prosecutors that sets out the law and provides forms on 11.07 writs. She has already published a Capital Writs book through TDCAA (which was sent to all felony prosecutors for free). It has lots of useful forms and stuff that apply just as well to noncapital writs.

John Bradley
District Attorney
Williamson County, Texas
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Laurie,
I just found this post and wondered if you could share your forms/outlines with me. I'm in kinda the same position you're in -- needing something in place to provide efficient yet substantive responses to these writs. Could you forward your "goodies" to me at the Angelina County D.A.'s office?

Katrina Jackson
ADA - Angelina County



[QUOTE]Originally posted by Laurie K. English:
Thanks for your responses. I've received a VERY helpful outline and copies of State Responses that are better than anything I've seen to date. A data base would be fabulous!!! We could easily adopt the "outline form" for case law relevant to issues we've previously responded to and submit additions as new issues arise. An outline that keeps us current and a concise "format" for responses would be time-efficient for all of us.
 
Posts: 26 | Location: Lufkin, TX | Registered: July 01, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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