Chief Justice Gray, Justice Davis, and Justice Neill
E. NEILL JUSTICE.
separate petitions for writ of mandamus, relator, Orlando
Deonte Pierce, challenges the trial court's orders on
motions to enforce a plea bargain in both proceedings.
Specifically, relator contends that the trial court
unlawfully rescinded a plea-bargain agreement; that the trial
court had a ministerial duty to approve a plea bargain in
these cases to remedy a violation of effective counsel; and
that a prior trial judge would have accepted the plea before
a second attempt at rescission by the State. For the reasons
outlined below, we deny relator's petitions for writ of
these proceedings, relator was charged by indictment with the
offenses of aggravated assault and violation of a protective
order, family violence. As indicated in relator's
mandamus petitions, on August 27, 2018, the Robertson County
District Attorney's Office conveyed a plea offer to
relator's court-appointed counsel. According to relator,
the offer was, in exchange for his plea of guilty to both
felonies, relator would receive punishment of fifteen
years' prison time for the aggravated-assault allegation
and ten years' prison time for the violation of a
protective order, family violence, allegation with the
sentences to be served concurrently. The prosecutor indicated
that the plea offer was available only for one week. During
the following week, relator spoke with his appointed counsel
and expressed a desire to accept the plea offer. However,
appointed counsel did not convey relator's acceptance of
the plea offer until a day after the prosecutor's
deadline for accepting the offer passed. Prior to appointed
counsel's attempt to accept the plea offer, the
prosecutor informed appointed counsel, via facsimile, that
the offer had been withdrawn and that any attempt to accept
at this time was too late. The prosecutor replaced the
aforementioned plea offer with one of forty years' prison
time in exchange for relator's plea of guilty to both
on May 10, 2019, relator moved the trial court to
"enforce the plea agreement," arguing that the
trial court should enforce the plea offer made by the
prosecutor for fifteen years' and ten years' prison
for the two charges with the sentences to run concurrently.
Relator argued that he "should not be punished more
severely, solely due to the failure of defense counsel to
convey defendant's acceptance of the plea agreement to
the District Attorney in a timely fashion." The trial
court initially granted the request to reopen the plea
negotiations and further stated that any plea agreement
reached between the prosecutor and relator would be
considered by the court at a later date. The trial court did
not accept or reject any plea at this time.
the trial court's ruling, relator tried again to accept
the prosecutor's original offer of fifteen years' and
ten years' prison time for the two charges with the
sentences to run concurrently. However, before the purported
agreement could be approved by the trial court, the State
revoked the plea, stating that the withdrawal was due to
"newly discovered evidence" that relator committed
a new offense of violation of a protective order on or about
February 26, 2019. Subsequently, the trial court denied
relator's motion to enforce the plea agreement, stating
that there was no agreement to "specifically
perform." The mandamus record does not contain a
certified or sworn copy of this order, which is the basis of
these original proceedings.
Standard of Review
criminal mandamus, the relator must show that he has no
adequate remedy at law and what he seeks to compel is a
ministerial act. Bowen v. Carnes, 343 S.W.3d 805,
810 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011); see State ex rel. Young v.
Sixth Judicial District Court of Appeals, 236 S.W.3d
207, 210 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007). An act is ministerial if
relator can show a clear right to the relief sought.
Bowen, 343 S.W.3d at 810. A clear right to relief is
shown when the facts and circumstances dictate but one
rational decision under "unequivocal, well-settled
(i.e., from extant statutory, constitutional, or case law
sources), and clearly controlled legal principles."
In re State ex rel. Weeks, 391 S.W.3d 117, 122 (Tex.
Crim. App. 2013). Mandamus is not available to compel a
discretionary act as distinguished from a ministerial act.
See State ex rel. Holmes v. Denson, 671 S.W.2d 896,
899 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984). However, a
"discretionary" act can become
"ministerial" when the facts and circumstances
dictate but one rational decision. In re State of
Tex., 162 S.W.3d 672, 675 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2005, orig.
proceeding) (citing Buntion v. Harmon, 827 S.W.2d
945, 948 n.2 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992)).
plea agreement is a contractual arrangement. Until all of the
necessary parties agree to the terms of the contract, the
agreement is not binding." Ortiz v. State, 933
S.W.2d 102, 104 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996).
A plea bargain consists of three parts: a plea of guilty,
the consideration for it, and the approval by the court of
the agreement. The bargain is the consideration
exchanged to the defendant for the plea of guilty. In
order for the contract to be binding, the trial judge must
approve and accept both aspects of it. When presented
with a plea bargain, the court has the right to accept or
reject it; however, it may not hold the defendant to his plea
of guilty while rejecting the benefit the defendant was to
receive. If the court does not approve the entire agreement,
the defendant must be allowed to withdraw his plea of
Ortiz v. State, 885 S.W.2d 271, 273 (Tex.
App.-Corpus Christi 1994), aff'd, 933 S.W.2d 102
(Tex. Crim. App. ...