Cases Dealing With ''Motions for New Trial'' In Texas

A decision to grant or deny a motion for new trial lies within the discretion of the trial court, and such decisions are reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. See: Rent v. State, 982 S.W.2d 382, 384 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998); Hill v. State, 480 S.W.2d 670, 673 (Tex. Crim. App. 1972); Jordan v. State, 154 Tex. Crim. 217, 226 S.W.2d 449, 452 (Tex. Crim. App. 1949); Vallone v. State, 141 Tex. Crim. 220, 147 S.W.2d 227, 230 (Tex. Crim. App. 1940). Jordan v. State, 154 Tex. Crim. 217, 226 S.W.2d 449 (Tex. Crim. App. 1949). In Jordan v. State, 154 Tex. Crim. 217, 226 S.W.2d 449, 452 (Tex. Crim. App. 1949) a defendant filed a motion for new trial alleging that one of the jurors at the time of trial and during trial was insane and therefore not a qualified juror. See Jordan, 226 S.W.2d at 452. The State controverted the defendant's allegations with affidavits of the eleven other jurors. See id. The defendant offered evidence from "doctors, psychiatrists, and laymen" which he urged was so overwhelming that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motion for new trial. See id. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding the fact issues adversely to the defendant and did not err in denying the motion for new trial. See id. A new trial is the rehearing of a criminal action after the trial court has, on the defendant's motion, set aside a finding or verdict of guilt. See Tex. R. App. P. 21.1. A motion for new trial is a prerequisite to presenting a point of error on appeal only when necessary to adduce facts not in the record. See id. rule 21.2. Various grounds for granting a new trial are enumerated. See id. rule 21.3. However, the enumerated grounds are not exclusive. See State v. Evans, 843 S.W.2d 576, 578-79 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992); State v. Read, 965 S.W.2d 74, 77 (Tex. App.--Austin 1998, no pet.). "The State may oppose in writing any reason the defendant sets forth in the motion for new trial." Tex. R. App. P. 21.5. In hearing the motion for new trial, the trial court may receive evidence by affidavit or otherwise. See id. rule 21.7. If they are offered and admitted in evidence, sworn motions and affidavits may serve as proof of allegations for a new trial. See McIntire v. State, 698 S.W.2d 652, 658 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985). Motions for new trial and affidavits and controverting affidavits are mere pleadings unless offered and admitted in evidence. See id. at 658; Stephenson v. State, 494 S.W.2d 900, 909-10 (Tex. Crim. App. 1973). It has long been held that a trial court may decide a motion for new trial based on sworn pleadings and affidavits admitted in evidence without hearing oral testimony. See: McIntire, 698 S.W.2d at 658; Vallone v. State, 141 Tex. Crim. 220, 147 S.W.2d 227, 230 (Tex. Crim. App. 1941); McBee v. State, 119 Tex. Crim. 279, 44 S.W.2d 699, 701 (Tex. Crim. App. 1931); Asher v. State, 102 Tex. Crim. 162, 277 S.W. 1099, 1104 (Tex. Crim. App. 1924); McConnell v. State, 82 Tex. Crim. 634, 200 S.W. 842 (Tex. Crim. App. 1918). Stephens v. State, 571 S.W.2d 174, 176 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978); Bahlo v. State, 707 S.W.2d 249, 251-52 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1986, pet. ref'd); Burke v. State, 691 S.W.2d 836, 839 (Tex. App.--Fort Worth 1985, pet. ref'd). "When an accused presents a motion for new trial raising matters not determinable from the record, upon which the accused could be entitled to relief, the trial judge abuses his discretion in failing to hold a hearing." Reyes v. State, 849 S.W.2d 812, 816 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993). "A defendant need only assert reasonable grounds for relief which are not determinable from the record in order to be entitled to a hearing." Jordan v. State, 883 S.W.2d 664, 665 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994). However, a trial court does not abuse its discretion in overruling a motion for new trial without a hearing unless the motion and supporting affidavits state facts that, if true, would entitle the defendant to a new trial. See Hernandez v. State, 952 S.W.2d 59, 74 (Tex. App.--Austin 1997), remanded on other grounds, 957 S.W.2d 851 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998). When a trial court does not conduct a hearing on a motion for new trial, an appellate court must determine whether the motion and affidavits show reasonable grounds that would entitle a defendant to a hearing of the motion. See Jordan, 883 S.W.2d at 665; Garcia v. State, 960 S.W.2d 329, 333 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1997, no pet.); Sandoval v. State, 929 S.W.2d 34, 36 (Tex. App.--Corpus Christi 1996, pet. ref'd).