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Texas Education Agency v. S.E.H.

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

June 6, 2017

TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY, Appellant
v.
S.E.H., Appellee

         On Appeal from the 268th District Court Fort Bend County, Texas, Trial Court Case No. 15-DCV-227070

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Brown and Lloyd.

          OPINION

          RUSSELL LLOYD JUSTICE.

         Appellant Texas Education Agency is appealing an order of expunction of criminal records granted to S.E.H. In two issues, TEA argues that the trial court abused its discretion by granting S.E.H.'s petition for expunction because: (1) S.E.H. did not prove that he satisfies all of the statutory prerequisites for expunction, and (2) the scope of the expunction order is overly broad. We reverse and render judgment denying S.E.H.'s petition for expunction because S.E.H. did not satisfy the statutory requirements for expunction. He did not demonstrate that he had not been placed on community supervision.

         Background

         It is undisputed that S.E.H., a Texas public school teacher, repeatedly solicited sex from a person he believed to be a thirteen-year-old girl. He was arrested for the felony offense of online solicitation of a minor in violation of Texas Penal Code section 33.021(b). S.E.H. pleaded guilty and, pursuant to a plea bargain with the State, was placed on eight years' deferred adjudication community supervision. He surrendered his educator certificate to TEA as a condition of his community supervision. These facts are documented in the Sugar Land Police Department's Incident Report, which includes an initial report of the sting operation targeting an internet chat room that resulted in S.E.H.'s arrest, and several supplemental reports on the same matter (the Reports).

         After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found Penal Code section 33.021(b) facially unconstitutional in Ex Parte Lo, 424 S.W.3d 10 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013), S.E.H. filed an application for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to Code of Criminal Procedure article 11.072, which "establishes the procedures for an application for a writ of habeas corpus in a felony or misdemeanor case in which the applicant seeks relief from an order or a judgment of conviction ordering community supervision." Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. Art. 11.072, § 1 (West 2015). The application was granted and the case against him was dismissed.

         S.E.H. then filed a petition for expunction of criminal records relating to his arrest for the felony offense of online solicitation of a minor. TEA filed a general denial, demanding strict proof of S.E.H.'s eligibility for expunction and all other statutory prerequisites.

         Although no testimony or evidence was admitted during the hearing on this matter, the trial court took judicial notice of the Reports at TEA's request. After the hearing, the trial court found that the Reports were part of the arrest record, granted the petition, and issued an order expunging "all records of [S.E.H.]'s arrest" as well as "all records of [S.E.H.]'s prosecution."

         TEA timely moved for a new trial and for formal admission of the Reports into evidence. After a second hearing, the trial court denied TEA's motions. This appeal followed.

         Statutory Prerequisites for Expunction

         In its first issue, TEA argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted S.E.H.'s petition because S.E.H.'s failed to demonstrate that he was not placed on community supervision, which is a statutory prerequisite for expunction. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 55.01(a), (a)(2) (West Supp. 2016).

         A. Standard of Review

         1.Petition for ...


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