Appeal from the 21st District Court Washington County, Texas,
Trial Court Cause No. 16980
consists of Justices Busby, Donovan, and Brown.
BRETT BUSBY JUSTICE.
Christopher Kulow, a former deputy jailer, was convicted of
official oppression and sentenced to one year in county jail
for assaulting a restrained inmate under his charge.
See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 39.03 (West 2016).
Appellant appeals his conviction, raising two issues.
Appellant first argues the trial court erred in not allowing
him time to develop or use information that the State
belatedly disclosed in violation of Brady. We
conclude there was no Brady violation because
appellant did not show prejudice.
also contends the trial court erred in preventing him from
questioning a witness about the witness's criminal
history. We conclude the trial court did not abuse its
discretion in excluding the witness's history as
irrelevant or unfairly prejudicial. We therefore affirm the
trial court's judgment.
Webb attended Blinn College from 2011 to 2013. In 2011, he
was placed on probation for possession of marijuana. In
August 2013, Webb was arrested for possession of marijuana,
violating probation, and criminal trespass. After his arrest,
Webb was placed in solitary confinement for disruptive
behavior. Specifically, Webb was continuously pressing the
jail's intercom system button from inside his cell,
preventing other inmates and outside callers from using the
system. While in solitary confinement, Webb displayed
disruptive behavior again and continued to push the intercom
button. Appellant and Deputy Jailer Shannon May went to
Webb's cell with a restraint chair to stop Webb's
opened Webb's cell and Webb voluntarily walked to the
restraint chair and sat down. As May secured Webb in the
restraint chair, Webb cursed and insulted appellant. Webb did
not physically resist May. Video evidence showed that before
Webb was fully restrained, appellant knocked the restraint
chair onto the ground and struck Webb in the face.
was charged with official oppression and his case proceeded
to trial. Just before trial began, the State made a motion in
limine requesting that defense counsel approach the bench
before questioning Webb about his criminal history other than
the offense for which he was jailed on the day of the
incident. Defense counsel responded he had not received any
criminal history from the State, and if there was any, he was
entitled to it under Brady. The trial court ordered
the State to deliver Webb's arrest records to defense
counsel and granted the motion in limine. The arrest records
showed Webb had been arrested for aggravated assault in March
2012 and aggravated assault in February 2015.
Webb's direct examination, the State asked Webb when he
stopped taking classes at Blinn College. Webb responded he
stopped taking classes in May 2013. The State then asked if
Webb "managed to get in some trouble" while at
Blinn College. Webb then testified he was placed on probation
for possession of marijuana in 2011. Webb testified that in
August 2013, after he stopped taking classes at Blinn
College, he was arrested for possession of marijuana,
violating probation, and criminal trespass. This arrest was
the reason Webb was in jail on the day of the incident with
Webb's direct examination, defense counsel approached the
bench and asked to cross-examine Webb about the 2012
aggravated assault arrest because the State mischaracterized
the trouble Webb had gotten into while at Blinn College.
Defense counsel also requested permission to ask Webb about
his 2015 arrest for aggravated assault, which occurred after
the incident in question. The State responded that after
Webb's arrest in 2012, the State closed the case for
insufficient evidence. Therefore, the State argued, it would
be highly prejudicial to ask Webb about the arrest because
there was no conviction. Defense counsel stated he could not
respond to that because he did not have the State's file
on the case. Before ruling on defense counsel's request,
the trial court permitted counsel to review the file for
Webb's 2012 arrest over lunch.
the lunch break, defense counsel asked again to cross-examine
Webb about his 2012 aggravated assault arrest because the
State had opened the door and left a false impression with
the jury about the trouble Webb was in while at Blinn College
and why he left Blinn College. The State responded that it
did not ask Webb why he left Blinn College, and that it asked
him when he left simply to establish how long he had attended
the school. Defense counsel also argued he should be allowed
to cross-examine Webb about the 2015 arrest because the State
led the jury to believe he had only been charged with Class B
misdemeanors. The State responded that the 2015 arrest was
irrelevant because it was not the reason Webb was in jail on
the day of the incident with appellant.
trial court ruled that the 2015 arrest was irrelevant. The
trial court also denied defense counsel's request to
cross-examine Webb about his 2012 arrest. Defense counsel
then requested a continuance to get Webb's records from
Blinn College. The State responded that it was not relevant
why Webb left Blinn College. The trial court denied the
jury convicted appellant of official oppression, and the
trial court sentenced him to one ...