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Smith v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

June 15, 2017

REGINALD BERNARD SMITH, Appellant,
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee.

         On appeal from the 263rd District Court of Harris County, Texas.

          Before Justices Contreras, Benavides, and Longoria

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORA L. LONGORIA Justice

         Appellant Reginald Smith was indicted for murder, a first-degree felony. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 19.02(b)(1) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). On appeal, Smith argues in a single issue that the trial court violated his constitutional and statutory rights to be present throughout the entire voir dire proceeding. We affirm.

         I. Background[1]

         Smith was indicted for a murder that was alleged to have occurred on April 19, 2014. He pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial before a jury. During the voir dire proceedings, the following exchanges occurred as the trial court judge was making his initial remarks to the venire members:

         The Court: Now, the State has the burden. The defendant may testify if he wishes to do so; he doesn't have to, if he doesn't and you cannot hold that against him. Anybody have any questions about any of that? All right.

Smith: Your Honor-
The Court: You cannot speak, sir.
. . . .
The Court: So anybody have any questions for me? Again, the case should be over by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Smith: Your Honor, I need a lawyer. This dude here-
The Court: Excuse me, sir. You cannot talk. All right. I think that takes care of what I needed to speak with you about. Why don't we all stand up and stretch for a second and we will have the State start.
Smith: Let the jury see this, man. Sir, I need a lawyer.
The Court: All right. Please be seated. Thank you.
Smith: Your Honor, can I speak to you for a ...

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