Belcher v. State

In Belcher v. State, 93 S.W.3d 593 (Tex. App.--Houston 14th Dist. 2002, pet. dism'd), the court of appeals, in a plurality order, held that the defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney was constructively absent during a critical stage of trial. Id. at 599. In that case, the trial court advised defense counsel that it planned to rule in favor of the defense's motion for a new trial but needed assistance in calculating the time frame to rule on the motion. Id. at 596-97. The court of appeals determined that the defendant's counsel was absent during the motion for a new trial stage because he had remained silent when the trial court had requested his assistance in calculating the deadline to rule on the motion for a new trial. Id. at 599. As a result, the court of appeals abated the appeal and remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a hearing on the motion for new trial. Id. at 600.