Southwestern Law Journal
Recent state and federal decisions significantly influenced Texas criminal procedure at both the trial and appellate levels. These decisions generally affected three main areas of the punishment stage of Texas criminal trials. First, they defined the scope of evidence admissible at the punishment stage. Second, they addressed procedural and substantive questions concerning the special punishment issue of use or exhibition of a deadly weapon. Third, they raised substantial questions about the constitutionality of the death penalty as applied by Texas courts.
Texas courts also faced numerous challenges in the aftermath of several important state and federal constitutional decisions. These decisions involved issues of procedural default, retroactivity, and harmless error, which prompted reconsideration of the availability of, and procedural requirements for, habeas corpus. For example, Texas courts have devised various procedures in implementing Batson v. Kentucky, which established new standards to prevent racial discrimination in the selection of juries. These cases helped develop Texas trial court and appellate review.
John M. Schmolesky, Trial and Appellate Criminal Procedure, 44 Sw. L. J. 601 (1990).