Justia Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Opinion Summaries

Miller v. Texas

By
Appellant was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child by sexual contact. Appellant waived his right to a jury trial and pleaded not guilty at a bench trial to the charges. Appellant filed a motion for new trial alleging ineffective assistance of counsel on the basis that his trial counsel had erroneously promised him that he would receive probation if he was found guilty by the trial court. This advice was erroneous because, under the former law that applied to appellant’s offenses that were committed in 2001, only a jury could recommend a probated sentence if he was found guilty of the offenses. The issue this case presented centered on the standard courts should employ for assessing whether a defendant was prejudiced from his attorney’s deficient performance with respect to the defendant’s decision to waive a jury trial in favor of a bench trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals found two possible alternatives for the prejudice standard in this type of case: (1) a court could consider solely how the deficient performance affected the defendant’s decision to waive the jury; or (2) a court could consider the totality of the record so that the deficient performance is gauged against how it affected the outcome of the proceedings by comparing the outcome of the bench trial that actually did occur with the probable outcome of the jury trial that did not occur. In his sole ground in his petition for discretionary review, Appellant argued the Court of Criminal Appeals should employ the first alternative. The Court concluded, however, that the second alternative appropriately applied here. The court of appeals properly determined that appellant was not prejudiced by counsel’s erroneous advice. Accordingly, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the court of appeals’ judgment. View "Miller v. Texas" on Justia Law