Appeal from the 184th District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 1530897
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Goodman and
Charles Lee Farris, Jr., without an agreed punishment
recommendation from the State, pleaded guilty to the felony
offense of murder.After finding true the allegation in an
enhancement paragraph that he had been previously convicted
of a felony offense, the trial court assessed his punishment
at confinement for forty years. In his sole issue, appellant
contends that the trial court erred in accepting his guilty
plea because "the Texas Constitution requires a jury
trial in all criminal prosecutions."
Harris County Grand Jury issued a true bill of indictment,
alleging that appellant, on or about November 15, 2016,
"did then and there unlawfully, intentionally and
knowingly cause the death of [the complainant], . . . by
shooting the complainant with a firearm" and "did
then and there unlawfully intend to cause serious bodily
injury to [the complainant], . . . and did cause the death of
the [c]omplainant by intentionally and knowingly committing
an act clearly dangerous to human life, namely shooting the
complainant with a firearm."
appellant signed and filed a "Waiver of Constitutional
Rights, Agreement to Stipulate, and Judicial Confession"
in which he pleaded guilty to the felony offense of murder
and admitted that he committed the acts as alleged in the
indictment. Appellant's trial counsel also signed the
"Waiver of Constitutional Rights, Agreement to
Stipulate, and Judicial Confession," affirming that she
believed that appellant had entered his guilty plea
knowingly, voluntarily, and after a full discussion of the
consequences of his plea. Trial counsel also affirmed that
she believed that appellant was competent to stand trial.
further signed written admonishments,  informing him
that he had been indicted for the felony offense of murder
and of the punishment range for that offense. And appellant
signed a "Statement and Waivers of Defendant,
" affirming that he was mentally competent;
understood the nature of the charge against him, the trial
court's admonishments, and the consequences of his plea;
and freely and voluntarily pleaded guilty. Moreover,
appellant represented that he had consulted with his trial
counsel about his plea; he "waive[d] and g[a]ve up any
time provide[d] [to him] by law to prepare for trial";
he was "totally satisfied with the representation
provided by [his] counsel and [he had] received effective and
competent representation"; he "g[a]ve up all rights
given [to him] by law, whether of form, substance or
procedure"; he "waive[d] and g[a]ve up [his] right
to a jury in th[e] case and [his] right to require the
appearance, confrontation and cross[-]examination of the
witnesses"; he "consent[ed] to [the] oral or
written stipulations or evidence in th[e] case"; and he
had "read the indictment and [he had] committed each and
every element alleged." Appellant thus requested that
the trial court accept his guilty plea.
trial court found sufficient evidence of appellant's
guilt and that appellant had entered his guilty plea freely,
knowingly, and voluntarily. And it admonished appellant of
his legal rights, accepted his guilty plea, and ordered a
conclusion of appellant's sentencing hearing, at which
the State and appellant both presented evidence, the trial
court found appellant guilty of the felony offense of murder,
found true the allegation in an enhancement paragraph that
appellant had been previously convicted of a felony offense,
and sentenced appellant to confinement for forty years.
to a Jury Trial
sole issue, appellant contends that the trial court erred in
accepting his guilty plea because "the Texas
Constitution requires a jury trial in all criminal
provisions of the Texas Constitution address the concept of
trial by a jury in a criminal case. Article I, section 10 of the
Texas Constitution, titled "Rights of accused in
criminal prosecutions," states: "In all criminal
prosecutions the accused shall have a speedy public trial by
an impartial jury." Tex. Const. art. I, § 10.
Article I, section 15 of the Texas Constitution states:
"The right of trial by jury shall remain
inviolate." Tex. Const. art. I, § 15. Section 15
also authorizes the Legislature to "pass such laws as
may be needed to regulate the same[, i.e., the right to trial
by a jury], and to maintain its purity and efficiency."
Id.; see e.g., Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann.
art. 1.13 ("Waiver of trial by jury"). The Sixth
Amendment to the United States Constitution also provides:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy
the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury
of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been
committed . . . ." U.S. Const. amend. VI.
asserts that the language contained in Article I, section 10
of the Texas Constitution "does not say [that] a
criminal defendant has a 'right' to a jury
trial," rather the wording of the provision
"creates an absolute requirement" and
"actually mandates a jury trial in every criminal
prosecution." In other words, "nothing . . .
permit[s] a criminal defendant to waive th[e] [jury trial]
requirement" found in Article I, section 10; it is not
optional. In regard to Article I, section 15 of the Texas
Constitution and the Sixth Amendment to the United States
Constitution, however, appellant concedes that he waived his
right to a jury trial provided for by those provisions. Thus,
appellant relies solely on the language contained in Article
I, section 10 to assert that he could not have waived
"the absolute requirement of a jury trial in all
criminal prosecutions" provided for by the Texas
Constitution. See Tex. Const. art. I, § 10.
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stated that "there
is no significant textual difference between"
Article I, section 10 of the Texas Constitution and the Sixth
Amendment to the United States Constitution that
"indicate[s] that different standards of protection
should be applied" to criminal defendants under either
constitution. See Jacobs v. State, 560 S.W.3d 205,
210 (Tex. Crim. App. 2018) (emphasis added) (internal
quotations omitted); see also Jones v. State, 982
S.W.2d 386, 391 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998). Although the people
of Texas do have the authority to provide greater protections
to criminal defendants than those provided for by the federal
constitution,  as to a trial by a jury in criminal cases,
they have not chosen to do so. See Jacobs, 560
S.W.3d at 210; Jones, 982 S.W.2d at 391; see
also Niles v. State, 555 S.W.3d 562, 577 n.12 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2018) (Yeary, J., dissenting) ("We have said
before that there is no difference in scope between the Sixth
Amendment's right to a jury trial and that of Article I,
Section 10, of the Texas Constitution."). In other
words, "the right in the [Texas] [C]onstitution is no
greater than that recognized in the Sixth Amendment."
Uranga v. State, 330 S.W.3d 301, 304 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2010); see also Marquez v. State, 725 S.W.2d
217, 243 & n.9 (Tex. Crim. App. 1987) (quoting language
of Article I, section 10 and Sixth Amendment and clarifying
"[t]here is no significant textual difference between
the two constitutional provisions which would indicate that
different standards of protection should be applied"),
overruled on other grounds by Moody v. State, 827
S.W.2d 875 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992). And appellant does not
appear to dispute that the Sixth Amendment right to trial by
a jury may be waived. See Boykin v. Alabama, 395
U.S. 238, 243 (1969); McCarthy v. United States, 394
U.S. 459, 466 (1969); Ex parte Palmberg, 491 S.W.3d
804, 807 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016); Davison v. State,
405 S.W.3d 682, 686 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013); State v.
Morales, 253 S.W.3d 686, 697 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008);
see also Ex parte Ross, 522 S.W.2d 214, 222 (Tex.
Crim. App. 1975) ("There exists no federal
constitutional provision which prohibits an accused from
knowingly and intelligently waiving his right to trial by
jury in a felony prosecution."), abrogated by Ex
parte McCain, 67 S.W.3d 204 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002).
Instead, appellant concedes that he waived his Sixth
Amendment right to a jury trial in this case.
in regard to Article I, section 10, specifically, the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals has explained: "[W]e have not
held . . . [that] despite [the] mandatory language in
[Article I, section 10], that an impartial jury is an
inflexible constitutional imperative which cannot be . . .
consciously waived. Rather, we have recognized it to be a
right of the accused . . . ." Delrio v.
State, 840 S.W.2d 443, 445 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992)
(emphasis added) (internal footnote omitted); see
also Jones, 982 S.W.2d at 391 (Article I,
section 10 "recognizes the right to trial by
jury"). And although Article I, section 10, which
"provides that 'the accused shall have a . . . trial
by an impartial jury, '" is "expressed in
mandatory terms as an indispensable feature of the system,
the [c]ourt [has] held [that] th[e] provision conferred a
right to the accused which could not be impaired without
his consent, as authorized by the Legislature."
Id. at 445 n.2 (first alteration in original)
(emphasis added) (quoting Tex. Const. art. I, § 10);
see also State v. Waters, 560 S.W.3d 651, 662 &
n.10 (Tex. Crim. App. 2018) (Article I, section 10 confers
"[a] right to a determination of guilt or innocence by a
the Court of Criminal Appeals has previously addressed
appellant's exact argument on appeal, i.e., that although
Article I, section 15 of the Texas Constitution "makes a
jury trial a 'right' which might be waived,"
Article I, section 10 creates "an absolute requirement
of trial by jury in all criminal prosecutions." See
Dabney v. State, 60 S.W.2d 451, 451 (Tex. Crim. App.
1933). In Dabney, the court explained that if the
criminal defendant was correct in his assertion that Article
I, section 10 mandated a jury trial in every criminal
prosecution, "then all legislative acts permitting a
waiver of [a] jury . . . [would be] void, as being in
conflict with the constitution." Id. And the
court made clear that it did not agree with the
defendant's position. Id. Rather, it explained
that Article I, section 10 and section 15 "must be
considered together, " and when the court did so, it
determined that the criminal defendant's assertion that
Article I, section 10 mandated a jury trial in every criminal
prosecution was incorrect. Id.; see also Moore
v. State, 22 Tex. Ct. App. 117, 118-20, 2 S.W. 634,
635-36 (1886) (considering both Article I, section 10 and
section 15 and holding statute which allowed waiver of jury
trial for misdemeanor offenses did not conflict with
aforementioned constitutional provisions).
appellant takes issue with the Court of Criminal Appeals'
analysis and conclusions in the aforementioned cases, we, as
an intermediate appellate court, are bound in criminal cases
to follow the decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
See State of Tex. ex rel. Vance v. Clawson, 465
S.W.2d 164, 168 (Tex. Crim. App. 1971) ("The Court of
Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort in this [S]tate
in criminal matters. This being so, no other court . . . has
authority to overrule or circumvent its decisions, or disobey
its mandates."); Ervin v. State, 331 S.W.3d 49,
53 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2010, pet. ref'd)
("As an intermediate court of appeals, we are bound to
follow the precedent of the [C]ourt of [C]riminal
[A]ppeals."); see also Tex. Const. art. V,
§ 5(a); Mason v. State, 416 S.W.3d 720, 728
n.10 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2013, pet. ...