Case Dealing With Denial of Writ of Habeas Corpus

In Ex parte Hargett, 819 S.W.2d 866 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991), the trial court refused to issue a requested writ of habeas corpus in an order that nevertheless addressed the merits of the claims raised in the writ application. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals wrote: The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the trial court did not issue a writ of habeas corpus. However, it erred in concluding that it had no jurisdiction to hear the appeal from the trial court's order denying relief. This is not a case where the district court simply refused to hear the application as presented. Here, the court went beyond merely deciding not to issue the writ of habeas corpus. The court, in this instance, undertook to rule on the merits of the application. It is important to recognize that there is a distinction between the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus and the granting of relief on the claims set forth in an application for that writ. The trial court in the instant case did not issue the requested writ of habeas corpus. However, he did not dismiss the application either. Instead, the court undertook to rule on the merits of applicant's claim and hence, the court of appeals has jurisdiction over applicant's appeal. Id. at 869. Under Hargett, the crucial question is not whether the trial court did or did not issue the writ, but whether the court did or did not consider and resolve the merits of the petition. See 43 George E. Dix and Robert O. Dawson, Criminal Practice and Procedure 47.43 (Texas Practice 1995). If the trial court reaches the merits of the habeas corpus application, its ruling is appealable even if it comes in the form of an order refusing to issue the writ. See Hargett, 819 S.W.2d at 869. Conversely, an order purporting to deny the relief sought in a habeas corpus application is not appealable if the trial court did not in fact rule on the substantive merits of the applicant's claim. See Ex parte Bamburg, 890 S.W.2d 549, 551 (Tex. App.--Beaumont 1994, no pet.).