Appeal from the 263rd District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No. 1444554
consists of Chief Justice Frost and Justices Boyce and
Thompson Frost Chief Justice
Jermaine Earvin Johnson challenges his conviction for
aggravated robbery, asserting that the trial court lacked
jurisdiction over his case because the grand jury for a
different court returned the indictment under which he was
convicted. Appellant also asserts that article 102.004(a) of
the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which governs jury fees
paid by defendants, violates the separation-of-powers
provision of the Texas Constitution. We conclude the trial
court had jurisdiction over the case and that under
Salinas v. State, 523 S.W.3d 105, 106-10 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2017), article 102.004(a) is facially unconstitutional
in violation of the Texas Constitution's
separation-of-powers provision. We modify the trial
court's judgment to delete the jury fee and affirm the
trial court's judgment as modified.
and Procedural Background
grand jury for the 209th District Court of Harris County
returned an indictment against appellant for aggravated
robbery. The Harris County District Clerk assigned the case
to the 263rd District Court of Harris County and that court
conducted a jury trial of the charged offense in the 263rd
District Court. The jury found appellant guilty as charged
and assessed punishment at 27 years' confinement. The
trial court ordered appellant to pay court costs. The bill of
costs, which totaled $334, included a $40 "jury
raises three issues in this court:
(1)The 263rd District Court of Harris County did not have
jurisdiction over appellant's case because the grand jury
for the 209th District Court of Harris County (rather than
the court in which appellant was convicted) returned the
(2)The jury fee is unconstitutional because having the trial
court collect the fee makes the court a tax gatherer, which
violates the Texas Constitution's separation-of-powers
(3)The jury fee violates the accused's right to a jury
trial enshrined in the Texas Bill of Rights.
Trial court's jurisdiction
contends that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the
case because the indictment - returned by the grand jury for
the 209th District Court of Harris County - vested
jurisdiction only in the 209th District Court.
courts and criminal district courts hold original
jurisdiction in felony criminal cases. Tex. Code Crim. Proc.
Ann. art. 4.05 (West 2015); Matthews v. State, 530
S.W.3d 744, 746 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2017, pet.
ref'd). Jurisdiction vests in a trial court once a grand
jury presents an indictment or information charging a person
with committing an offense. Id. Presentment occurs
when the grand jury delivers the indictment to either the
judge or the clerk of the court. Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann.
art. 20.21 (West 2015). In counties with more than one
district court, such as Harris County, all the district
courts share the same district clerk. See Saldivar v.
State, No. 14-16-00888-CR, 2017 WL 4697888, at *1 (Tex.
App.-Houston [14th Dist.] Oct. 19, 2017, no pet. h.). All
district courts within the same county have jurisdiction over
the same cases. See Matthews, 530 S.W.3d at 747.
Texas Government Code section 24.024, entitled "Filing
and Docketing Cases, " the district courts may agree to
transfer a case from one district court to another district
court within the same county, even if a grand jury impaneled
by a different district court returned the indictment.
See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § ...