Too Little, Too Late

On Friday, I sprung a guy from a Texas prison.

“Carl” had been in for nine years on an online-solicitation-of-a-minor case when his mom hired me to file an application for writ of habeas corpus on his behalf.

Just after Christmas the Tarrant County District Attorney agreed that relief was appropriate, and agreed to Carl’s release on his own recognizance. The court bench-warranted Carl back from prison to the county jail, and put him on the docket for Friday.

I drove up for the proceedings, and the judge set a one-dollar personal bond, conditioned only on Carl’s reporting back to the jail if the Court of Criminal Appeals refuses relief. About seven hours later the Tarrant County Sheriff let Carl out.

I have to admit that I got a bit teary: For the last three and a half years Carl has been illegally confined, sitting in prison because of a statute declared void by the Court of Criminal Appeals in Ex parte Lo. He can never get back a day of that time, and there is no prospect for him to be compensated for his illegal incarceration.

And I’m sure he isn’t the only one.


  1. The October 2013 decision Ex parte Lo (congratulations on winning that) remanded the case to the trial court “to dismiss the indictment.” Did the trial court just ignore that? That is, what element of the Texas system is at fault for the prisoner’s being held for years afterwards and released only because of a habeus corpus prompt? Intentional malfeasance or paperwork snafu, do you think?

    1. Lo’s indictment was dismissed. The decision was not self-executing, so others who were eligible for relief had to apply for it (generally by filing applications for writs of habeas corpus). Many did; some didn’t. See my next post …

    1. The King gets to decide when he gets sued; the last hope for compensation was actual-innocence compensation under the Tim Cole Act.
      The Court of Criminal Appeals declared that people who were convicted only under the unconstitutional statute were not “actually innocent” to avoid emptying the State’s coffers.
      (I have gotten the return of fees paid by probationers, but that amounts only to a few thousand dollars.)

  2. The Court of Criminal Appeals declared that people who were convicted only under the unconstitutional statute were not “actually innocent”

    They are getting better drugs out there in Texas than we get here. Or perhaps it is the same Texas Court of Criminal appeals that said “we close at 5” (Richard v. State) when the defendant’s atty’s computers crashed and they needed another 20 minutes to get their petition in.

    Perhaps they have a perverted definition of actual innocense. From here, I’d say that if I did something that was not, and could not, be a crime, that I’m actually innocent. Obviously not in Texas.

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