Ex parte Richard Bowman

After jet-skiing in the afternoon with one friend, and then drinking at least one glass of wine at the apartment of another friend before briefly falling asleep on her couch, Appellant Richard Bowman drove home in the early morning hours of September 24, 2004. Appellant was later arrested for the misdemeanor offense of driving while intoxicated (“DWI”). A jury trial convicted him of that offense in January 2005. His punishment was assessed at 180 days in county jail, probated for a period of one year, and an $800 fine. Although he originally intended to appeal his conviction, Appellant filed a motion to dismiss the appeal. In 2013, appellant filed a post-conviction application for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his trial counsel’s representation had been constitutionally deficient to his substantial detriment. The convicting court conducted a hearing on the writ application and ultimately denied relief. On appeal, however, the First Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that counsel had performed deficiently and that Appellant had suffered prejudice. The court of appeals rejected the State’s attempt to rely on the equitable doctrine of laches to bar habeas corpus relief on the ground that the State had not invoked laches during the writ hearing at the convicting court level. On the State’s petition for discretionary review, however, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the State did not forfeit its laches argument by failing to raise it first in the convicting court. The court of appeals remanded the case, in turn, to the convicting court for further factual development in a hearing on the laches issue. The convicting court concluded that Appellant should have been barred by laches from obtaining habeas corpus relief. The court of appeals reversed the convicting court again, however, holding that laches did not bar Appellant from pursuing his ineffective assistance of counsel claim, and once again granting Appellant relief on that claim. The Court of Criminal appeals granted the State’s second petition for discretionary review with respect to two issues: (1) whether the court of appeals erred in reaching the merits of Appellant’s habeas claim when he waited over seven and a half years to assert it; and, if not, then, (2) in any event, did the court of appeals err to hold that Appellant established ineffective assistance of counsel at his 2005 trial for DWI. Because the Court of Criminal Appeals held that the court of appeals erred to find trial counsel ineffective, it did not address the laches issue. View "Ex parte Richard Bowman" on Justia Law