Noble v. State

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
PartiesNEIL PAUL NOBLE, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
Docket Number05-21-00326-CR
Decision Date01 December 2022



No. 05-21-00326-CR

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

December 1, 2022

Do Not Publish TEX. R. APP. P. 47.2(B)

On Appeal from the Criminal District Court No. 4 Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. F18-45998

Before Justices Molberg, Partida-Kipness, and Carlyle


Partida-Kipness Justice

Appellant Neil Noble appeals his conviction for stalking. In numerous appellate issues, Noble contends within twelve categories: (1) sufficiency of the evidence; (2) judgment reformation; (3) constitutionality of the stalking statute; (4) denial of a speedy trial; (5) admissibility of evidence; (6) voir dire error; (7) error during closing argument; (8) judicial bias; (9) sufficiency of the indictment; (10) denial of right to self-representation; (11) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (12) cumulative error. We affirm as modified.



Noble was indicted for stalking, a third-degree felony. See TEX. PENAL CODE § 42.072(b). The indictment alleged that "on or about and between the 16th day of October, 2018 and the 5th day of November, 2018," Noble knowingly engaged in conduct to "harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, or embarrass" the complainant, Messina Madson, with repeated e-mails, obscene comments, and placing her in "fear of bodily injury or death."

Noble was found incompetent by a jury on December 12, 2018, and again on February 6, 2020. After being committed to a state mental hospital, Noble regained competence. He pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial. A jury found Noble guilty of the charged offense and, after reaching an agreement with the State, was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment, probated for four years. This pro se appeal followed.


Noble was indicted in November 2018 for stalking Messina Madson, a criminal defense attorney. Trial commenced on April 26, 2021. Madson testified that on October 16, 2018, she received a birthday card via Federal Express from Noble. She testified she found the card "weird" because it "read like a personal birthday card, but it didn't make a lot of sense and there was an invitation in it." The birthday card read "Happy Birthday to Someone who's Charming, Intelligent, GreatLooking, and Fun to be around. We're so alike it's frightening!" In the hand-written note inside, Noble said "Dear Messina, Happy Birthday. My dad said I could use his


Mavericks tickets on November 2 if you want to go with me. I will take you out for breakfast and could be your companion for the day 'friends with benefits.'" He signed the card "Love, Neil." Madson showed the card to her law partner, who recognized the sender's name and told her Noble had been e-mailing her through their law firm website's client contact box.

Between October 16, 2018, and November 5, 2018, Noble e-mailed Madson fifty-one times from his personal e-mail address. Some of the early e-mails, like the birthday card, asked Madson to join Noble on a date. Other e-mails randomly referenced legal cases, news events, or would have case law citations and explanations. Madson testified she had never met Noble or represented him in any legal matter. However, the e-mails had a very familiar tone and seemed like a response to something Madson said. As the e-mails continued, they became more personal, referencing Madson coming to Noble's home, getting a hotel room together, Noble going to Madson's home, hanging drapes at Noble's home and then stating that "D" + "rape = drape," and talking about terrorist attacks, shootings, and bombings. Noble also talked about getting advice from dead people, multiple conspiracy theories involving the Mafia, Russia, former presidents, and how he analyzed numbers.

Madson testified the nature of the e-mails alarmed her so she notified the staff at her office and security in the building about Noble. Noble continued to e-mail her and made reference to the Doubletree Hotel corporate suite, which she testified was


the hotel her office was attached to, and the University of Texas soccer fields, which Madson stated were close to her home. After she received those e-mails, Madson testified her family altered their life, with her children not being allowed to play outside anymore and having to warn her son and her children's schools about Noble.

Madson also contacted the Dallas County District Attorney's Office (DA's Office) to try to get Noble to stop contacting her.[1] Noble's later e-mails referenced how he knew she had contacted the DA's office by stating "I will not voluntarily consent to a 'no-contact' provision with either Messina Madson or Jody Warner [another female attorney]." Additionally, on October 31, 2018, Noble wrote Madson stating, "You made a mistake that needs to be corrected. I will let you take me on a vacation. If you do anything else to make me look bad, I [sic] won't be as patient."

On November 2, 2018, Noble came to Madson's office telling the receptionist, Sarah Dunn, that he was there to take Madson to lunch. Dunn recognized Noble from the picture Madson had provided and notified Taly Haffar, an attorney at the office. Haffar confronted Noble, stated Madson was not at the office, and told Noble he needed to leave. Haffar agreed during his testimony that Noble left without incident but found his behavior odd. Later that day, Noble wrote Madson and stated:

Will you let me take you to dinner tonight for your birthday. I can also give you a key. Let me know.
I came by to take you to lunch today but they wouldn't let me in. Maybe he confused a box of condoms (three) for a suicide bomb. The guy reminded me of actor tele sevalias [sic].
I am at the law library. There is an annotation on competency to stand trial in the same casebook as dusky, 362 u.s. [sic].
Neil noble [sic] November 2, 2018.

Madson testified that this e-mail was "really scary" because she knew Noble had just been at her office.

I'm scared and alarmed that this ha[d] escalated way beyond past where it should have, and it's sexual and it's sexual without my participation. It is getting into a sexual fantasy that has a level of familiarity that is not appropriate, not reasonable, not stable. It's just scary.

The emails continued until the following day, November 3, 2018. The last one Noble sent stated:

Roy Cohn[2] suggested that I ask you if you are ready for me to come over and give you a good time for your birthday. How many times would you like to have good sex with me tonight? I could probably find your house. Campbell to Coit. Would you open the door if I came over?
I would rather have sex with you than fight with you, but that's up to you. When is the fun part of your next menstrual cycle? Do you want to practice before then?
Happy Birthday!
Neil Noble November 3, 2018.

Madson testified she was out of town for her birthday, but received a panicked phone call from her husband on November 4, 2018, because Noble had shown up to their home. Anthony Pampillonia, Madson's husband, testified he was home with their children when the doorbell rang. When he opened the door, Noble was there and asked for Madson. Pampillonia told him no one by that name lived there and closed the door. Pampillonia stated Noble seemed surprised when he opened the door. Pampillonia called 911 as Noble left. After Noble showed up at their home, her family made changes to their home security, notified the police and schools, and had more police patrols in their neighborhood. Madson testified that if she had been home, she believed Noble would have tried to "rape" her.

The jury also heard testimony from Detective Sarah Ye with the Richardson Police Department. Detective Ye testified she reviewed Pampillonia's complaint and the e-mails and birthday card Madson received. Detective Ye also spoke to Noble in a videotaped interview where he claimed ownership of the e-mail address used to send the e-mails to Madson and admitted to sending them. The jury found Noble guilty as alleged in the indictment.



Noble brings eighty-one issues on appeal that we have combined into the following categories: (1) sufficiency of the evidence to support the conviction; (2) judgment reformation; (3) constitutionality of the stalking and harassment statutes; (4) denial of a speedy trial; (5) admissibility of evidence; (6) voir dire error; (7) error during closing argument; (8) judicial bias; (9) sufficiency of the indictment; (10) denial of right to self-representation; (11) ineffective assistance of counsel; and (12) cumulative error. We will address his substantive complaints first.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

In his first set of issues, Noble challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction for stalking. He also alleges the evidence was not sufficient to support a conviction for harassment and there was a variance between the indictment and evidence presented at trial.

We review a sufficiency challenge by considering all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and determine, whether, based on the evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom, a rational jury could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979); Brooks v. State, 323 S.W.3d 893, 895 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010). We examine all the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and determine whether a rational fact finder could have found the essential elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Matlock v. State, 392 S.W.3d 662, 667 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013).


We defer to the fact finder's credibility and weight determinations because the fact finder is the sole judge of the witnesses' credibility and the weight to be given to their testimony....

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