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Truong v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston

February 15, 2018

Hung Dasian Truong
v.
The State of Texas

         339th District Court of Harris County case number 1172979

          ORDER OF CONTINUING ABATEMENT

          EVELYN V. KEYES JUDGE.

         Appellant appeals the trial court's May 3, 2016 order ("the 2016 appeal") and May 3, 2017 order ("the 2017 appeal") renewing his commitment to inpatient treatment following a verdict finding him not guilty by reason of insanity of the offense of manslaughter.

         In response to our December 12, 2017 order abating the 2017 appeal, [1] the trial court clerk filed an information sheet stating, "This case is on the trial court's docket for 4/2/18." The trial court clerk attached the docket sheet, which reflected an "NGRI Commitment Status Conference" scheduled for April 2, 2018, at 9:00 a.m. The trial court has failed to file a supplemental record, as ordered by this Court, nor has the trial court filed any document indicating that it conducted the hearing as directed in the December 12, 2017 order.

         The hearing scheduled for April 2, 2018, appears to be the annual hearing to determine whether to renew appellant's inpatient commitment. This hearing does not satisfy this Court's prior abatement orders of September 7, 2017, and December 12, 2017, which ordered the trial court to hold a hearing to determine whether appellant wishes to pursue the 2017 appeal.

         We therefore order the trial court to immediately conduct a hearing, specifically to make fact findings as outlined below, at which a representative of the Harris County District Attorney's Office and appellant's counsel, Staci Biggar, shall be present. Tex. R. App. 38.8(b)(2). Appellant shall also be present for the hearing in person or, if appellant is incarcerated, at the trial court's discretion, appellant may participate in the hearing by closed-circuit video teleconferencing.[2]

         The trial court shall have a court reporter record the hearing. The trial court is directed to:

(1) make a finding on whether appellant wishes to prosecute this appeal;
(2) if appellant does wish to prosecute this appeal, determine whether counsel Staci Biggar has abandoned this appeal;
(3) if counsel Staci Biggar has not abandoned this appeal:
a. inquire of counsel the reasons, if any, that she has failed to file a brief timely on appellant's behalf; and
b. set a date certain when appellant's brief will be due, regardless of whether this Court has yet reinstated this appeal and no later than 30 days from the date of the hearing;
(4) if Staci Biggar has abandoned this appeal, enter a written order relieving Staci Biggar of her duties as appellant's counsel, including in the order the basis for the finding of abandonment, ...

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