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In re Commitment of Garcia

Court of Appeals of Texas, Third District, Austin

July 26, 2019

In re Commitment of Rolando Garcia

          FROM THE 331ST DISTRICT COURT OF TRAVIS COUNTY NO. D-1-GN-17-002713, THE HONORABLE DAVID CRAIN, JUDGE PRESIDING

          Before Justices Goodwin, Baker, and Smith

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          EDWARD SMITH, JUSTICE.

         This is an appeal from final judgment following a jury trial on the State's petition to classify Rolando Garcia as a sexually violent predator subject to involuntary civil commitment. See Tex. Health & Safety Code § 841.003. The jury returned a verdict, by a 10-2 vote, that Garcia is not a sexually violent predator and the district court entered final judgment reflecting that verdict. In two issues on appeal, the State argues: (1) that the district court abused its discretion by failing to admit certain evidence, and (2) that the district court erred by entering judgment on a non-unanimous jury finding. We will affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         Garcia has committed sexual offenses against multiple adolescent and pre-pubescent minors, including his own daughter. Garcia points to abuse of alcohol and experimentation with illegal substances as the primary cause of this conduct. After a jury convicted Garcia of his most recent offense, Garcia spent years in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Once he was eligible for parole, he began participating in a required sex offender treatment program that included various forms of therapy supervised by licensed professionals.

         Following his confinement, the State petitioned to have Garcia classified as a sexually violent predator subject to involuntary civil commitment and confinement pursuant to Chapter 841 of the Health and Safety Code. See Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 841.001-.153. In response, Garcia argued that he has not had any sexual contact with minors since the mid-1990s, although he conceded that he was in State custody and did not have access to minors during most of that time. He also argued that he experienced a spiritual awakening while confined and no longer desires to engage in substance abuse and is no longer attracted to minors.

         During the proceedings, the State and Garcia disagreed as to whether certain evidence should be admitted for the jury's consideration. Garcia had written a series of personal statements during therapy sessions at TDCJ. Garcia's counsel obtained copies of these statements during discovery and listed them on its production logs but refused to produce them to the State, citing the privilege against self incrimination afforded by the Fifth Amendment. The State then filed a motion to compel.

         The parties argued the motion to the district court during trial and outside the presence of the jury. After the district court concluded the parties were not prepared to present the governing law, the district court afforded the parties an additional day to research the issue. The court entertained further argument the next day but did not review the statements in camera before ultimately denying the motion to compel.

         The State finished trying its case to the jury, and the district court charged the jury:

Do you find beyond a reasonable doubt that Rolando Garcia is a Sexually Violent Predator?
1. A "no" answer means that at least 10 jurors agree that the answer to the question is "no." If at least 10 jurors agree that the answer to the question is "no," those jurors must sign the verdict.
2. A "yes" answer must be unanimous. This means all 12 jurors must agree the answer to the question is "yes." Only the presiding juror signs the verdict.

         The jury answered: "No." The ten jurors agreeing to answer the question in the ...


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