998 F.2d 320 (5th Cir. 1993), 91-6258, Springer v. Coleman

Docket Nº:91-6258.
Citation:998 F.2d 320
Party Name:R.B. SPRINGER, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Lawrence COLEMAN, Director, Harris County Adult Probation Department, Respondent-Appellee.
Case Date:August 23, 1993
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
 
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Page 320

998 F.2d 320 (5th Cir. 1993)

R.B. SPRINGER, Petitioner-Appellant,

v.

Lawrence COLEMAN, Director, Harris County Adult Probation

Department, Respondent-Appellee.

No. 91-6258.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 23, 1993

Page 321

Michael A. Maness, Houston, TX, for petitioner-appellant.

R. Ray Buvia, Asst. Atty. Gen., Dan Morales, Atty. Gen., Austin, TX, for respondent-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Before POLITZ, Chief Judge, GOLDBERG, and JONES, Circuit Judges.

GOLDBERG, Circuit Judge:

R.B. Springer appeals from the district court's denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Springer, a former Houston police officer, was investigated by a Texas grand jury regarding allegations of police brutality. Specifically, the grand jury questioned Springer about numerous complaints that Springer had choked suspects and prisoners in his custody. In the course of the grand jury proceedings, and while Springer was under oath, one of the grand jurors asked Springer the following question: "Mr. Springer, have you ever physically abused or mistreated a prisoner or suspect in your custody?" Springer answered: "No sir."

On the basis of Springer's grand jury testimony, Springer was charged with aggravated perjury and tried in state court. At Springer's bench trial, the state presented eight witnesses who testified that Springer had choked or otherwise mistreated them while they were in Springer's custody. Springer was convicted and sentenced to ten years imprisonment, probated on the condition that he serve 30 days in the Harris County jail.

Springer's conviction was affirmed on direct appeal by the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals. 721 S.W.2d 510. Springer's subsequent petition for discretionary review was denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, as was Springer's application for a state writ of habeas corpus in the trial court. On appeal of the denial of habeas corpus, a divided panel of the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals again affirmed Springer's conviction.

Page 322

Springer next petitioned the federal district court for a writ of habeas corpus, alleging that his state perjury conviction violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court rejected appellant's petition and declined to disturb the state perjury conviction, finding that "the evidence showed the falsity of Springer's response in that numerous witnesses testified to the mistreatment that they received while in Springer's custody." We affirm the district court's denial of Springer's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

ANALYSIS

Under Texas law, a person commits perjury if the person makes a false statement under oath, with intent to deceive, and with knowledge of the statement's meaning. Tex.P.C. § 37.02. The term "statement" means "any representation of fact." Tex.P.C. § 37.01(3). Perjury is aggravated if the false statement is made during an official proceeding, including a grand jury proceeding. Tex.P.C. § 37.03 and § 37.01(2). See Terrell v. State, 801 S.W.2d 544, 547 (Tex.App.1990).

It is the role of the fact-finder to determine whether the defendant understood the question propounded to him and intentionally lied. United States v. Thompson, 637 F.2d 267, 270...

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