Appeal from the 337th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1487627
consists of Justices Jennings, Bland, and Brown.
found appellant, Ruben Lee Allen, guilty of the offense of
aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. After finding
true the allegation in an enhancement paragraph that he had
previously been convicted of a felony offense, the jury
assessed his punishment at confinement for twenty-five years.
In two issues, appellant contends that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction over this case and the $200 "Summoning
Witness/Mileage" fee assessed against him is
unconstitutional. We modify the trial court's judgment
and affirm as modified.
Rajan, the complainant, testified that as the pharmacist at
the BZ Pharmacy in Harris County, Texas, he was responsible
for handling the money in the pharmacy's cash register,
the prescription medications, and other property of the
pharmacy. On September 11, 2015, while his assistant
technician was on break and he was alone in the pharmacy, the
complainant went to the restroom. When he came out, a black
man, standing at the restroom's door, pointed a firearm
at his head. The man told the complainant to "look
down" and open the pharmacy's safe, which contained
paperwork, certain narcotic medications, and money. The
complainant did not see the face of the man with the firearm,
but he saw the firearm and feared that he would die. The
complainant noted that the man had two other people with him,
but he was unable to see their faces because they were
wearing hoods. After the complainant opened the
pharmacy's safe, he laid down on the floor, while the man
with the firearm "took some things from the safe"
and asked the complainant for hydrocodone. Before leaving the
pharmacy, the man took "some hydrocodone" and
approximately $1, 000 from the pharmacy's cash register.
watching the pharmacy's surveillance videotape, admitted
into evidence at trial as State's Exhibit 4, the
complainant explained that the videotape shows a silver truck
driving into the pharmacy's parking lot and parking close
to the pharmacy. Although one person remained in the truck,
three other people exited the truck and entered the pharmacy.
Two of the people who got out of the truck wore "hoodies
pulled over their heads, " and a third man wore a black
shirt and white pants. The videotape next shows the three
people entering the pharmacy and the man with the black shirt
and white pants standing next to the restroom. As the
complainant exits the restroom, the man with the black shirt
and white pants "[p]ut[s] [a] gun" to the
complainant's head, and the complainant, as instructed,
"look[s] down" and "g[ets] down on [his]
knees." After the complainant opens the pharmacy's
safe, the man with the black shirt and white pants takes from
out of the safe a white object, which he then carries into
the pharmacy's "prescription medication area"
and leaves on the floor of the pharmacy.
Police Department Officer O. Baldwin testified that while on
duty on September 11, 2015, he was dispatched to investigate
the aggravated robbery. Upon arriving at the BZ Pharmacy,
Baldwin spoke to the complainant who told him that
"three black males with ski masks on came into [the]
shop and pulled a gun on him and got him out of the
restroom." One of the men then "took him to the
[pharmacy's] safe, " "made him open [it],
" and "get . . . stuff out." Baldwin noted
that he viewed the pharmacy's surveillance videotape,
State's Exhibit 4, which shows a man wearing a black
shirt and white pants holding a firearm and "grabb[ing]
a [white] bag out of the [pharmacy's] safe." The man
then leaves the white bag on the floor of the pharmacy.
Baldwin noted that he collected the white bag, admitted into
evidence at trial as State's Exhibit 7, from the floor of
Pilkington, a latent print technician for the Houston
Forensic Science Center ("HFSC"), testified that
she tested three items related to the case, including
State's Exhibit 7, the white bag found on the
pharmacy's floor. From the white bag, Pilkington
recovered two latent fingerprints.
Jewkes, a senior latent fingerprint examiner for HFSC,
testified that he analyzed the two latent fingerprints that
Pilkington had recovered from State's Exhibit 7, the
white bag. He opined that the first fingerprint
"corresponds to the right middle finger" of
appellant, and the second fingerprint "belong[s] to the
right ring finger" of appellant. In other words, the
"two latent [finger]prints" recovered from the
white bag "belonged to" appellant.
finding appellant guilty of the offense of aggravated robbery
with a deadly weapon, and finding true the allegation in an
enhancement paragraph that he had previously been convicted
of a felony offense, the jury assessed appellant's
punishment at confinement for twenty-five years. In the
judgment of conviction, the trial court ordered appellant to
pay court costs, "[a]s [a]ssessed, " which included
a $200 charge for "Summoning
first issue, appellant argues that the trial court, the 337th
District Court of Harris County, Texas, lacked jurisdiction
over this case because the underlying indictment was
presented to the grand jury of the 230th District Court of
Harris, County, Texas. The State asserts that appellant
waived his complaint by not first raising this procedural
matter in the trial court.
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure sets forth the organization
and duties of a grand jury. See Tex. Code Crim.
Proc. Ann. arts. 19.01-20.22 (Vernon 2015 & Supp. 2016).
A trial court forms, impanels, and empowers a grand jury to
inquire into indictable offenses, including aggravated
robbery with a deadly weapon. See Tex. Code Crim.
Proc. Ann. art. 20.09 ("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) ("Once formed and impaneled by
the district judge, the grand jury shall inquire into all
offenses liable to indictment" (internal quotations
omitted)); Davis v. State, 519 S.W.3d 251, 254 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, pet. ref'd); Bourque
v. State, 156 S.W.3d 675, 678 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2005,
pet. ref'd). Because a grand jury's deliberations are
secret, it retains a "separate and independent nature
from the court." Ex parte Edone, 740 S.W.2d at
hearing testimony, a grand jury then votes concerning the
presentment of an indictment. See Tex. Code Crim.
Proc. Ann. art. 20.19 ("After all the testimony which is
accessible to the grand jury shall have been given in respect
to any criminal accusation, the vote shall be taken as to the
presentment of an indictment . . . ."); Ex parte
Edone, 740 S.W.2d at 448; Davis, 519 S.W.3d at
254; Bourque, 156 S.W.3d at 678 (grand jury
"hears all the testimony available before voting on
whether to indict the accused").
nine members concur in finding the bill, " the State
prepares the indictment and the grand jury foreman signs it
and delivers it to the judge or the clerk of the court. Tex.
Code Crim. Proc. Ann. arts. 20.19-.21; Bourque, 156
S.W.3d at 678. An indictment is considered
"'presented' when it has been duly acted upon by
the grand jury and received by the court." Tex. Code
Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 12.06 (Vernon 2015); see also
Henderson v. State, 526 S.W.3d 818, 819 (Tex.
App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2017, pet. ref'd). Thus,
presentment occurs when an indictment is delivered to either
the judge or the clerk of the court. Tex. Code Crim. Proc.
Ann. art. 20.21; State v. Dotson, 224 S.W.3d 199,
204 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007).
district clerk for each county "is the clerk of
the court for all the district courts in that county."
Henderson, 526 S.W.3d at 820 (quoting Ex parte
Alexander, 861 S.W.2d 921, 922 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993),
superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Ex
parte Burgess, 152 S.W.3d 123, 124 (Tex. Crim. App.
2004)); Aguillon v. State, No. 14-17-00002-CR, 2017
WL 3045797, at *1 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] July 18,
2017, pet. ref'd) (mem. op., not designated for
publication). "The fact that a signed indictment
features an original file stamp of the district clerk's
office is strong evidence that a returned indictment was
'presented' to the court clerk within the meaning of
Article 20.21." Dotson, 224 S.W.3d at 204
(because indictment "bears an original file stamp, that
fact convincingly shows the presentment requirement was
satisfied"). Once an indictment is presented,
jurisdiction vests with the trial court. Tex. Const. art. V,
§ 12(b); Dotson, 224 S.W.3d at 204; Cook v.
State, 902 S.W.2d 471, 476 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995).
state district courts within the same county have
jurisdiction over the same cases, and criminal district
courts have original jurisdiction in felony criminal cases.
See Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann. art. 4.05 (Vernon
2015); Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 74.094 (Vernon 2013);
see also Aguillon, 2017 WL 3045797, at *2;
Henderson, 526 S.W.3d at 820; Davis, 519
S.W.3d at 254. In counties having two or more district
courts, the judges of the courts "may adopt rules
governing the filing and numbering of cases, the assignment
of cases for trial, and the distribution of the work of the
courts as in their discretion they consider necessary or
desirable for the orderly dispatch of the business of the
courts." Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 24.024 (Vernon
Supp. 2016); see also Tex. Gov't Code Ann.
§ 74.093 (Vernon Supp. 2016) (addressing adoption of
local rules of administration to provide, in part, for
assignment, docketing, transfer, and hearing of all cases);
Henderson, 526 S.W.3d at 820; Aguillon,
2017 WL 3045797, at *2; Davis, 519 S.W.3d at 255.
in multi-court counties, such as Harris County, although a
specific district court may impanel a grand jury, it does not
necessarily follow that all cases considered by that
court's grand jury are assigned to that court. See
Henderson, 526 S.W.3d at 820; Aguillon, 2017 WL
3045797, at *2; Shepherd v. State, No.
01-16-00748-CR, 2017 WL 2813165, at *1 (Tex. App.-Houston
[1st Dist.] June 29, 2017, pet. ref'd) (mem. op., not
designated for publication); Davis, 519 S.W.3d at
255 ("If a grand jury in one district court returns an
indictment in a case, the case nevertheless may be then
assigned to any district court within the same
county."); Hernandez v. State, 327 S.W.3d 200,
204 (Tex. App.-San Antonio 2010, pet. ref'd);
Bourque, 156 S.W.3d at 678; see also Tamez v.
State, 27 S.W.3d 668, 670 n.1 (Tex. App.-Waco 2000, pet.
ref'd) (noting "the judges of the Harris County
district courts exercising criminal jurisdiction have adopted
a procedure by which indictments are filed in each court on a
rotating basis without reference to the court which empaneled
the grand jury presenting the indictments"). In other
words, one court may impanel a grand jury, and if an
indictment is presented, the case may be filed in another
court of competent jurisdiction within the same county.
See Aguillon, 2017 WL 3045797, at *2; Cannon ...