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Ex parte Reyna

Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District, Waco

January 30, 2014

EX PARTE ESTEBAN REYNA

From the County Court, Navarro County, Texas. Trial Court No. 35561.

For Appellant/Relator: Jeff T. Jackson, Attorney at Law, Corsicana, TX.

For Appellee/Respondent: R. Lowell Thompson, Navarro County District Attorney, Corsicana, TX.

Before Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Scoggins.

OPINION

Page 277

REX D. DAVIS, Justice.

Esteban Reyna appeals the trial court's denial of relief on his application for writ of habeas corpus brought under article 11.072 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 11.072 (West Supp. 2013) (providing procedure for habeas corpus in felony and misdemeanor cases in which applicant seeks relief from judgment of conviction ordering community supervision). We will affirm.

Reyna's application, which was filed on March 30, 2011, alleged that he was charged with a felony DWI in 2010 based on two prior DWI convictions, including the underlying 1990 misdemeanor conviction that is the subject of this habeas proceeding. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 49.09(b)(2) (West Supp. 2013). Reyna alleged, and the record shows, that he pleaded guilty and received community supervision for two years and was assessed a $600 fine in December of 1990. The record also shows that Reyna waived the appointment of counsel, the right to the making of a record, and the right to a jury trial.

The gist of Reyna's request for habeas relief in the form of setting aside this 1990 conviction is that his guilty plea was involuntary because he did not (and still cannot) speak, read, or write English, that no interpreter was present for his waiver and guilty plea, that the trial judge was aware that Reyna did not speak or understand English, that he was not advised of his right to counsel and to a jury trial, and that he pleaded guilty based on simple instructions from his bail bondsman that, if he pleaded guilty, he would not go to jail. Reyna also asserted that the information was not signed by a prosecutor and that there was a material date variance between the complaint and the information.

The parties stipulated that the trial court would decide Reyna's application based on affidavits and record documents alone. In denying Reyna habeas corpus relief, the trial court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law.[1]

Page 278

We review the trial court's denial of a habeas corpus application for an abuse of discretion. Kniatt v. State, 206 S.W.3d 657, 664 (Tex.Crim.App. 2006). ... We review " the record evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling and [we] must uphold that ruling absent an abuse of discretion." Id.

Ex parte Rodriguez, 378 S.W.3d 486, 489 (Tex.App.--San Antonio 2012, pet. ref'd).

Reyna's first issue contends that the 1990 misdemeanor operates as a restraint to entitle him to seek habeas corpus relief. He asserts this issue because, in the trial court, the State contended that Reyna could not seek habeas relief because the use of the 1990 misdemeanor conviction to enhance the pending DWI charge to a felony was not an illegal restraint.[2] The trial court did not deny habeas relief on this basis, but because it is jurisdictional, we address it. The Court of Criminal Appeals has held that a county court has jurisdiction to entertain a request for habeas relief like Reyna's when the applicant is not currently confined. See Ex parte Schmidt, 109 S.W.3d 480, 481 (Tex.Crim.App. 2003), mem. op. on remand, No. 14-97-01116-CR, 2003 Tex.App. LEXIS 8670, 2003 WL 22304571 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 9, 2003, no pet.) (mem. op., not designated for publication) (addressing appellant's habeas attack on prior misdemeanor DWI conviction being used to enhance pending prosecution to a felony); see also Ex parte Ali, 368 S.W.3d 827, 831-32 (Tex.App.--Austin 2012, pet. ref'd) (discussing collateral legal consequences resulting from prior conviction); Ex parte Rodriguez, No. 14-10-00529-CR, 2011 Tex.App. LEXIS 67, 2011 WL 61858, at *2 ...


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