Boyd v. State

In Boyd v. State, 811 S.W.2d 105, 119-20 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991), the trial court rejected defense counsel's proffered questions because the defendant was being tried for capital murder and defense counsel refused to tie his questions to Texas's statutory special punishment issues. Id. Such a holding is simply not dispositive for noncapital sentencing, during which the jury may consider any matter the court deems relevant to sentencing. In Boyd, counsel inquired: "What I'm basically asking you is what you as layman think is a case that is proper for the death penalty to be imposed?" Counsel stated that he was eliciting "what factors [the veniremember] thinks ... would be things that would influence him in voting his verdict." Id. at 120. The Court held that "a vague question about 'what things' the veniremember thought were important in determining whether an individual should receive a death sentence, wholly unrelated to the sentencing scheme, amounts to a fishing expedition going beyond the scope of proper voir dire." Ibid. The Court concluded the question was improperly broad and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in disallowing it. Ibid.