Ex parte Mable

Decision Date17 September 2014
Docket NumberNo. WR–81358–01.,WR–81358–01.
Citation443 S.W.3d 129
PartiesEx parte Kendrick MABLE.
CourtTexas Court of Criminal Appeals

Nicolas Hughes, Harris County Public Defender's Office, Houston, TX, for Applicant.

District Attorney Harris County, Devon Anderson, Houston, TX, Lisa C. McMinn, State's Attorney, Austin, for the State.

Opinion

WOMACK, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KELLER, P.J., and MEYERS, PRICE, JOHNSON, HERVEY, COCHRAN, and ALCALA JJ. joined.

The applicant pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to two years' imprisonment pursuant to a plea bargain. He did not appeal his conviction. Shortly thereafter, the Houston Forensic Science Center finished testing the seized substances and discovered that they did not actually contain any illicit materials. In response to this revelation, he filed an application for a writ of habeas corpus. The State and the trial court both agree that he is entitled to relief on the basis of “actual innocence.” While we grant relief, we do so on the basis of an unknowing and thus involuntary plea.

At least in Texas cases, the term “actual innocence” applies only in circumstances where the accused did not actually commit the charged offense or any possible lesser included offenses.1 In this case, the applicant pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Therefore, it is possible that he intended to possess a controlled substance (which is not alone an offense) or that he attempted to possess a controlled substance (which is a lesser included offenses of possession).

However, we still believe that the applicant is entitled to relief. It is well established that a guilty plea must be entered knowingly and voluntarily.2 “Moreover, because a guilty plea is an admission of all the elements of a formal criminal charge, it cannot be truly voluntary unless the defendant possesses an understanding of the law in relation to the facts.”3 This means that the defendant must have “sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances.”4 The standard is whether the plea is a voluntary and intelligent choice among the alternative courses of action open to the defendant.5 In this case, all parties involved, including the applicant, incorrectly believed the applicant had been in possession of drugs. This fact is crucial to this case, and while operating under such a misunderstanding, the applicant cannot be said to have entered his plea knowingly and intelligently.

Accordingly, we hold that the applicant should be allowed to withdraw his plea. The judgment in Cause No. 1421276 in the 338th Judicial District Court of Harris County is set aside, and the applicant is remanded to the Harris County Sheriff to answer the charge against him. The trial court shall issue any necessary bench warrant within 10 days after the mandate of this Court issues.

KEASLER,...

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161 cases
  • Ex parte Fournier
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 28 Octubre 2015
    ...the alleged conduct, the applicant is nonetheless not guilty.23 The Wilson clarification was at the center of our recent opinion in Ex parte Mable, in which we denied an applicant's actual innocence claim when newly discovered forensic testing revealed that the substances forming the basis ......
  • Ex parte Saucedo
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 26 Junio 2019
    ...the convicting court. In his first, -01 writ, Saucedo argued that (1) his guilty plea as to possession of codeine was involuntary under Ex parte Mable ,5 and (2) his conviction violated due process because, "[i]f Applicant committed an offense, it is not the specific offense Applicant was a......
  • Ex parte Palmberg
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
    • 24 Febrero 2016
    ...and intelligent choice and recommended that this Court allow Applicant to withdraw his plea in accordance with Ex parte Mable, 443 S.W.3d 129, 131 (Tex.Crim.App.2014).THE LAW An agreement to plead guilty entails a waiver of three significant constitutional rights: The right against self inc......
  • McCardle v. State
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 1 Mayo 2018
    ... ... 567 U.S. at 470, 479, 132 S.Ct. 2455. In Ex parte Maxwell , the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that Miller announced a new substantive rule and it applied retroactively. 424 S.W.3d 66, 7576 ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 books & journal articles
  • Post-Trial Issues
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 2 - 2015 Contents
    • 17 Agosto 2015
    ...because he could have been guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted possession of a controlled substance. Ex parte Mable, 443 S.W.3d 129, 131 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). §21:75 Procedure Whether a trial court issues a writ of habeas corpus is a matter of discretion. The trial court ma......
  • Post-Trial Issues
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 2 - 2017 Contents
    • 17 Agosto 2017
    ...because he could have been guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted possession of a controlled substance. Ex parte Mable, 443 S.W.3d 129, 131 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). §21:75 Procedure Whether a trial court issues a writ of habeas corpus is a matter of discretion. The trial court ma......
  • Misdemeanor Defense
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Texas Small-firm Practice Tools. Volume 1-2 Volume 2
    • 5 Mayo 2022
    ...A plea may be considered involuntary and subject to reversal on appeal. Brady v. United States , 397 U.S. 742 (1970); Ex parte Mable, 443 S.W.3d 129 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014) (laboratory report indicates that the substance was a substance other than the one to which the defendant pleaded guilt......
  • Post-Trial Issues
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Texas Criminal Lawyer's Handbook. Volume 2 - 2019 Contents
    • 16 Agosto 2019
    ...because he could have been guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted possession of a controlled substance. Ex parte Mable, 443 S.W.3d 129, 131 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014). Habeas relief is not available for mere statutory violations. Ex parte Johnson, 541 S.W.3d 827, 830 (Tex. Crim. App......
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