Houston Criminal Attorney
John T. Floyd

John T. Floyd
Travels to All Criminal Courts In Texas

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440 Louisiana,
Ste. 1900
19th Floor
Lyric Centre
Houston, TX 77002

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(713) 224-0101 Phone
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Federal and State Criminal Defense Top Attorneys: Criminal Defense - 2008 and 2009 HTexas

Serious Criminal Defense Throughout Texas

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Trials, Sentencings and Appeals

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Serious Criminal Defense in Federal and State Courts
Houston, Harris County, Throughout Texas and the U.S.A

Top Criminal Lawyer 2008, 2009 -HTexas

Phone:713-224-0101       Toll Free:866-374-1327
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Sentencing And Appeals

Texas Court of Appeals

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the court of last resort for all criminal matters in the State of Texas. The Court, which is based in Austin, is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight Judges.

Article V of the Texas Constitution vests the judicial power of the state and describes the Court's jurisdiction and sets rules for judicial eligibility, elections, and vacancies.

Texas, along with Oklahoma, is the only state to have two courts of last resort. In Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals has final jurisdiction over all criminal matters, while the Texas Supreme Court is the last word on all non-criminal matters.

The Court of Criminal Appeals exercises discretionary review over criminal cases, which means that it may choose whether or not to review a case. The only cases that the Court must hear are those involving the sentencing of capital punishment or the denial of bail.

Court Composition
The Court is composed of a Presiding Judge and eight Judges (unlike the Texas Supreme Court which is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Justices). Each Judge serves a six-year term, and they are elected in staggered partisan elections. The Presiding Judge is a seat elected by the people. In order to be a Judge, a person must be at least 35 years of age, a United States and Texas citizen, licensed to practice law in Texas, and must have practiced law at least 10 years. Judges must retire at age 75, even if the birthday falls in the middle of a term. The Governor of Texas, subject to Senate confirmation, may appoint a Judge to serve out the remainder of any unexpired term until the next general election.

Like the Texas Supreme Court, the Judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals are currently all Republican.

The current Judges of the Court are:

Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge
Lawrence E. Meyers, Judge
Tom Price, Judge
Paul Womack, Judge
Cheryl Johnson, Judge
Michael Keasler, Judge
Barbara Hervey, Judge
Charles Holcomb, Judge
Cathy Cochran, Judge

Federal Appeals

An individual convicted of a crime has thirty (30) days in Texas and ten (10) days in Federal Court, in which to file a notice of appeal. If you should wish to appeal a conviction, it is urgent that you contact an attorney immediately as time is of the essence.

Capital punishment in Texas

Why the high rate?
There are a variety of proffered legal and cultural explanations as to why Texas has more executions than any other state. (Delaware, and not Texas has the highest execution rate.)

First, Texas' appellate judges are elected by the people of the state. Given Texas' general conservative political tone, some say this means they often take a tough stance on crime to ensure reelection. There is also purported evidence that the quality of these elected jurists is not as high as those appointed in other states.

The quality of the attorneys is also purportedly low for capital cases in Texas. Often the accused are unable to afford their own representations and must use court-appointed lawyers. These people may not have experience with death penalty cases, others have been simply incompenent. In the case of Calvin Burdine, his lawyer fell asleep during the trial. Appeals were first turned down on the grounds that the constitution does not say anything about the lawyer needing to be awake during the trial. After further appeals, this case has now gone back for a retrial. Much has been done to improve the quality of legal representation recently, but there are many people on death row who were sentenced under the previous laws and rules.

Further, federal appeals are made to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Michael Sharlot, dean of the University of Texas at Austin Law School, found the Fifth Circuit to be a "much more conservative circuit" than the neighbouring Ninth. According to him, the Fifth is "more deferential to the popular will". Thus, the possibility of an appeal being overturned is higher than in some other circuits.

Along with these legal reasons, some have argued that there are cultural reasons. James W. Marquart, Sheldon Ekland-Olson, and Jonathan R. Sorensen write in their book The Rope, the Chair, and the Needle: Capital Punishment in Texas, 1923-1990 that the execution rate in Texas is a symptom of the "cultural tradition of exclusion" in the Southern United States. They found there was an inverse relationship between the number of executions and lynchings. When the number of lynchings declined, the execution rate went up. They said that executions are a way to continue to "dehumanize" and "exclude" certain groups from normal society.



U.S. VS.Booker and Fanfan


Perhaps the biggest difference between the federal and state system is the presence in the federal system of the Sentencing Guidelines. In the state system, the judges are generally allowed to sentence an individual in just about any manner they want. NOT SO IN A FEDERAL CASE. In the federal system, federal judges are controlled by the Sentencing Guidelines, which is a complicated method of determining how much jail or prison time a convicted person must serve. The potential prison term is calculated using a grid, which factors in one's past criminal history and all the details of the present offense. Once the number is arrived at on the sentencing table, a federal judge is required by Congress to assess the corresponding sentence. In essence, federal sentencing is more a creature of math than it is judicial discretion. The only way to deviate from the Guidelines is to persuade the court to grant a downward departure, which is really granted.