Description: John Phillip Devine III filed this interlocutory appeal challenging the district court’s
order denying a combination motion to quash his indictment and pretrial application for writ of
habeas corpus. In the underlying prosecution, Appellant is charged with five felony offenses: three
counts of sexual assault of a child, one count of indecency with a child by contact, and one count of
indecency with a child by exposure. See Tex. Penal Code §§ 21.11(a)(1), (2), (d), 22.011(a)(2), (f).
In a single issue on appeal, Appellant contends that the district court should have
quashed his indictment because counts two through five are subsumed within the offense alleged in
count one, placing him at risk of multiple punishments for the same offense in violation of the
Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because we
conclude that Appellant’s multiple-punishments claim is not cognizable on pretrial habeas, we will
affirm the district court’s order.
Appellant’s pretrial habeas application contends that his indictment violates protection afforded by Double Jeopardy Clause against multiple punishments for same offense
The Double Jeopardy Clause in the Fifth Amendment of the United States
Constitution provides that no person shall be subjected to twice having life or limb in jeopardy for
the same offense. U.S. Const. amend. V. The Double Jeopardy Clause protects against multiple
prosecutions and multiple punishments for the same offense by prohibiting: (1) a second prosecution
for the same offense after an acquittal, (2) a second prosecution for the same offense after a
conviction, and (3) multiple punishments for the same offense. Garfias v. State, 424 S.W.3d 54, 58
(Tex. Crim. App. 2014). The Double Jeopardy provisions of the United States Constitution and
the Texas Constitution provide substantially identical protections. Ex parte Mitchell, 977 S.W.2d
575, 580 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997); State v. Marshall, 814 S.W.2d 789, 792 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1991,
pet. ref’d) (concluding that Texas Constitution’s prohibition against multiple punishments for
same offense is no broader than guarantee under Double Jeopardy Clause of federal constitution).
Here, Appellant’s double-jeopardy claim does not allege that he is subject to multiple prosecutions
for the same offense but rather, that his indictment as pleaded violates the protection against
Cognizability on pretrial habeas is threshold issue
Appellant brings this habeas appeal asserting his double-jeopardy claim before being
tried under the indictment that he attacks. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stated that
pretrial habeas, followed by an interlocutory appeal, is an extraordinary remedy. Ex parte Ingram,
533 S.W.3d 887, 891 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017); Ex parte Perry, 483 S.W.3d 884, 895 (Tex. Crim.
App. 2016). Accordingly, whether a claim is cognizable on pretrial habeas is a threshold issue for
courts to address before the merits of the claim may be resolved. Ex parte Ellis, 309 S.W.3d 71, 79
(Tex. Crim. App. 2010); Ex parte Paxton, 493 S.W.3d 292, 297 (Tex. App.—Dallas 2016, pet.
ref’d). The Court of Criminal Appeals has admonished appellate courts to be “careful to ensure that
a pretrial writ is not misused to secure pretrial appellate review of matters that in actual fact should
not be put before appellate courts at the pretrial stage.” Ex parte Ellis, 309 S.W.3d at 79 (internal
citations omitted). Resolving the merits of a noncognizable claim in a pretrial habeas appeal is a
misuse of the writ. Id.; Ex parte Paxton, 493 S.W.3d at 298.
Certain factors determine whether issue is cognizable on pretrial habeas
Courts consider a variety of factors in determining whether an issue is cognizable on
pretrial habeas. Ex parte Weise, 55 S.W.3d 617, 619 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001). These factors include:
(1) whether resolution of a claim may be aided by development of a trial record, Ex parte Smith, 185 S.W.3d 887, 893 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006),
(2) whether the habeas application raises a constitutional right that includes a right to avoid trial, Ex parte Ingram, 533 S.W.3d at 892, and
(3) whether “protection of the applicant’s substantive rights or the conservation of judicial resources would be better served by interlocutory review,” id. at 891–92.
(1)Resolution of Appellant’s claim may be aided by development of record at trial
Pretrial habeas relief is generally unavailable “when the resolution of a claim may be
aided by the development of a record at trial.” Id. at 892; see Ex parte Smith, 185 S.W.3d at 893
(concluding that claim was not ripe for review and not cognizable in pretrial writ of habeas corpus
because State had not had opportunity to develop complete factual record during trial). In the
specific context of indecency and sexual assault cases, whether certain sexual acts charged against
a defendant are separate offenses or whether they were incident to and subsumed by a sexual-assault
charge is a determination that depends on the facts of the case. Maldonado v. State, 461 S.W.3d 144,
148–50 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015) (holding that offenses were not factually subsumed because there
was evidence that separate and distinct indecency-by-contact offenses occurred at other times in
addition to contact associated with penetration offenses); accord United States v. Universal C.I.T.
Credit Corp., 344 U.S. 218, 224 (1952) (“Whether an aggregate of acts constitute a single course of
conduct and therefore a single offense, or more than one, may not be capable of ascertainment
merely from the bare allegations of an in[dictment] and may have to await the trial on the facts.”).
As the Court of Criminal Appeals has noted, “A person who commits more than one sexual act
against the same person may be convicted and punished for each separate and discrete act, even if
those acts were committed in close temporal proximity. The key is that one act ends before another
act begins.” Aekins v. State, 447 S.W.3d 270, 278 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014).
Here, the probable-cause affidavit in the record—which the district court took judicial
notice of at the evidentiary hearing on Appellant’s habeas application —provides some indication 1
On appeal, defense counsel contends that although the district court took judicial notice1 of the probable-cause affidavit, it is not evidence. But he waived that objection when he affirmatively stated at the hearing on the habeas application that he had “no objection” to the court taking judicial notice of the probable-cause affidavit. See Broussard v. State, 598 S.W.2d 873, 874 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980) (concluding that defendant’s failure to object to trial court’s taking judicial notice of evidence from defendant’s previous trial forfeited defendant’s appellate complaint about propriety of such judicial notice); Duke v. State, No. 05-10-00577-CR, 2011 Tex. App. LEXIS 5230, 4
of the facts of this case. The affidavit summarizes the victim’s account of the sexual acts that
Appellant allegedly performed on her and states her recollection that “it happened multiple times
throughout the night.” Whether these acts amount to a single offense or multiple offenses, i.e.,
whether one act ended before another act began, will depend on the evidence adduced at trial.
Development of a record at trial may aid in the resolution of Appellant’s claim; therefore, it is not
yet ripe for appellate review. The fact that development of a record at trial may aid in the resolution
of Appellant’s claim indicates that his claim is not cognizable on pretrial habeas.
(2)Appellant’s habeas application raises no constitutional right that includes right to avoid trial
The Court of Criminal Appeals has determined that pretrial habeas relief may be
available when the habeas application raises a constitutional right that includes a right to avoid trial.
Ex parte Ingram, 533 S.W.3d at 892. For example, a pretrial writ of habeas corpus is usually the
proper procedural vehicle to raise a double-jeopardy claim alleging “successive prosecutions for the
same offense.” Gonzalez v. State, 8 S.W.3d 640, 643 n.9 (Tex. Crim. App. 2000) (citing Ex parte
Robinson, 641 S.W.2d 552, 553–56 (Tex. Crim. App. 1982)). In such cases, requiring a defendant
to go through trial before appealing the successive-prosecutions claim is inconsistent with the
double-jeopardy guarantee against being consecutively tried for the same offense. Id. (citing Ex
parte Robinson, 641 S.W.2d at 554).
at *5–6 (Tex. App.—Dallas July 12, 2011, no pet.) (not designated for publication) (concluding that defense counsel “waived any objection to the trial court taking judicial notice of the probable cause affidavit” by affirmatively stating that he had “no objection” to trial court taking judicial notice of entirety of files in two cases). 5
However, a claim alleging violation of the constitutional prohibition against multiple
punishments for the same offense—as Appellant alleges here—does not include the right to avoid
trial because a multiple-punishments claim “can be fully vindicated on appeal following final
judgment.” Ex parte Watkins, 73 S.W.3d 264, 273 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002) (“To be sure, the Double
Jeopardy Clause protects against being twice convicted for the same crime, and that aspect of the
right can be fully vindicated on appeal following final judgment[.]”); Gonzalez, 8 S.W.3d at 643 n.9;
Ex parte Robinson, 641 S.W.2d at 554; accord Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651, 660 (1977).
A multiple-punishments claim that can be fully vindicated on appeal does not entitle Appellant to
avoid trial and is therefore not cognizable on pretrial habeas.
(3) No showing that Appellant’s rights or judicial resources better served by interlocutory review
Further, Appellant’s claim is not cognizable on pretrial habeas because he has
made no showing that “the protection of [his] substantive rights or the conservation of judicial
resources would be better served by interlocutory review.” Ex parte Ingram, 533 S.W.3d at 891–92.
Appellant has not shown why interlocutory review of his multiple-punishment claim is appropriate
when punishment has not yet been imposed on him by the trial court. See United States v. Martinez,
599 F. Supp. 2d 784, 794 (W.D. Tex. 2009) (noting that danger of multiple punishments for single
offense “is only inchoate at the time of charging and does not become full-fledged until after
sentencing on purportedly multiplicitous counts”); see also Hopkins v. State, No. 05-07-01697-CR,
2009 Tex. App. LEXIS 3133, at *6 (Tex. App.—Dallas May 7, 2009, pet. ref’d) (not designated for
publication) (citing United States v. Koonce, 885 F.2d 720, 722 (10th Cir. 1989) (“Unless and until
defendant receives some punishment from the district court that is arguably multiple, the issue is not
ripe for review.”)). In the absence of any showing that protection of Appellant’s substantive rights
or the conservation of judicial resources would be better served by interlocutory review, Appellant’s
claim is not cognizable on pretrial habeas.
Outcome: We conclude that Appellant failed to show that his multiple-punishments claim is
cognizable on a pretrial writ of habeas corpus. See Ex parte Ellis, 309 S.W.3d at 79; Ex parte 2
Watkins, 73 S.W.3d at 273; Gonzalez, 8 S.W.3d at 643 n.9; Ex parte Robinson, 641 S.W.2d at 554.
Accordingly, we cannot conclude that the district court erred by denying Appellant’s requested relief.
We affirm the district court’s order.