JEREMIAH M. MATTHEWS, Appellant
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
Appeal from the 182nd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 1466348
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Jamison and
Thompson Frost Chief Justice
Jeremiah M. Matthews appeals his conviction for attempted
capital murder. In a single issue appellant argues the trial
court lacked jurisdiction because the grand jury that
indicted him sat in a different Harris County District Court
than the one in which his case was heard. We conclude that
the indictment vested jurisdiction in the trial court, and
appellant did not preserve for review any procedural defect.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
State filed a complaint alleging that appellant committed
attempted capital murder. The complaint was assigned to the
182nd District Court in Harris County.
indictment was later filed in the 182nd District Court, and
signed by the grand jury foreman of the 179th District Court.
The trial court proceedings were conducted in the 182nd
District Court. After appellant pleaded "guilty" to
attempted capital murder, the trial court ordered a
presentence investigation report and reconvened for the
punishment phase. Following the punishment hearing, the trial
court assessed punishment at confinement for 45 years in the
Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal
Issue and Analysis
argues that the trial court-the 182nd District Court of
Harris County-lacked jurisdiction because the grand jury of a
different court-the 179th District Court of Harris
County-presented the indictment. Appellant relies on the
grand jury foreman's stamp on the indictment to support
his argument that the grand jury of the 179th District Court
presented the indictment. Appellant contends that a grand
jury serves a particular court, not a particular county, and
therefore, when the 179th District Court's grand jury
presented the indictment, it did not vest jurisdiction over
the case in the 182nd District Court. According to appellant
this means of presentment created a jurisdictional defect
that can be raised for the first time on appeal. Our Houston
sister court recently considered and rejected this argument
in Davis v. State, 519 S.W.3d 251 (Tex. App.-Houston
[1st Dist.] 2017, pet. filed). "Any procedural challenge
to the transfer of a case within a county is . . . determined
and resolved by proper application of local rule promulgated
pursuant to constitutional and statutory authority; it is not
a jurisdictional defect." Id. at 256 (citing
Tex. Gov't Code § 74.094 (West 2015)); Bourque
v. State, 156 S.W.3d 675, 678 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005,
pet. ref'd). We agree with our sister court and hold that
appellant waived this issue for appellate review.
district courts have original jurisdiction in felony criminal
cases. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 4.05 (West 2015). To
vest a court with jurisdiction of a criminal action, a grand
jury must present an indictment or information charging a
person with committing an offense. Tex. Const. art V, §
12(b); see Tex. Code Crim. Proc. art. 20.21 (West
2015). Appellant asserts that because a trial court acquires
jurisdiction upon presentment of the indictment, the trial
court did not acquire jurisdiction because the indictment was
not properly presented.
district court forms and impanels a grand jury and empowers
it to inquire into indictable offenses, including attempted
capital murder. See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art.
20.09 (West 2015) ("The grand jury shall inquire into
all offenses liable to indictment of which any member may
have knowledge, or of which they shall be informed by the
attorney representing the State, or any other credible
person."); Ex parte Edone, 740 S.W.2d 446, 448
(Tex. Crim. App. 1987). After hearing testimony, a grand jury
votes concerning the presentment of an indictment.
See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 20.19 (West
2015); Ex parte Edone, 740 S.W.2d at 448. After
presentment, the State files the indictment in a court with
jurisdiction to hear the case. Cook v. State, 902
S.W.2d 471, 476 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995); Bourque, 156
S.W.3d at 677. All state district courts within the same
county have jurisdiction over the same cases. See
Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 74.094; Davis, 519
S.W.3d at 254.
a specific district court may impanel a grand jury, all cases
returned by that grand jury are not necessarily assigned to
that court. Bourque, 156 S.W.3d at 678. A case
assigned to a district court other than the district court to
which the grand jury presented the indictment amounts only to
a procedural irregularity, not a jurisdictional defect.
See Davis, 519 S.W.3d at 254; see also Tamez v.
State, 27 S.W.3d 668, 671 (Tex. App.-Waco 2000, pet.
ref'd) (no jurisdictional defect where grand jury
empaneled by 232nd Judicial District Court of Harris County
returned indictment, which was later filed in 180th Judicial
District Court of Harris County); see also Mosley v.
State, 172 Tex. Crim. 117, 120, 354 S.W.2d 391, 393-94
(1962) (rejecting "jurisdictional" challenge where
defendant was tried and convicted in district court other
than one that empaneled grand jury even though record
contained no transfer order). An objection to a procedural
irregularity must be raised in the trial court.
Tamez, 27 S.W.3d at 671. Appellant did not raise his
complaint in the trial court.
accused waives a defect in a charging instrument unless the
accused raises it before trial. See Studer v. State,
799 S.W.2d 263, 268-69 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990); see also
Ex parte Matthews, 873 S.W.2d 40, 41 (Tex. Crim. App.
1994); Fisher v. State, 887 S.W.2d 49, 60-61 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1994) (addressing whether an indictment is
facially incomplete and analyzing the sufficiency of the
evidence in relation to that indictment); State v.
Yount, 853 S.W.2d 6, 8 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993)
(considering whether an indictment is sufficient if it
indicates an offense date that is barred by the statute of
limitations, and holding that "jurisdiction was
conferred upon the trial court by the presentment of the
charging instrument, even if the charging instrument was
flawed"). If the defendant fails to direct the trial
court's attention to the defects in the charging
instrument before trial, the defendant may not raise those
defects on appeal. See Martin v. State, 346 S.W.3d
229, 232 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, no pet.). The
indictment in this case is a written instrument presented to
a court by a grand jury charging a person with the commission
of an offense, and appellant does not argue otherwise.
See Tex. Const. art. V, § 12(b);
Martin, 346 S.W.3d at 231-33. Thus, the presentment
of the indictment vested the trial court with jurisdiction,
regardless of any irregularity as to which grand jury
presented the indictment. See Tex. Const.
art. V, § 12(b); Martin, 346 S.W.3d at 231-33.
Appellant's indictment reflects that it was filed with
the Harris County District Clerk and signed by the grand jury
foreman of the 179th District Court. The indictment charges
appellant with attempted capital murder, a felony offense.
Therefore, the indictment was properly presented to vest the
182nd District Court with jurisdiction of appellant's
case. So, to avoid waiver, appellant had to ...