Issue: (1) Texas has enacted a statute, Texas Penal Code § 21.02, which
criminalizes continuous sexual abuse of a child or children under age
14. A jury is permitted to convict someone without unanimously
agreeing exactly which two acts occurred. All the jury has to
unanimously decide is that any two acts (24 total acts if there are 12
jurors) occurred over a period lasting 30 days or more. Does this
statute violate the federal constitutional requirements of a unanimous
jury verdict in criminal prosecutions or due process of law? Or is the
statute constitutional because, as the Texas appellate courts have held,
the “two or more acts” element is only the “manner and means” of
committing this offense, and therefore the jury does not need to
unanimously agree which two acts occurred in order to convict;
(2) Texas Government Code § 508.145(a) prohibits someone convicted of
continuous sexual abuse of a child or children under age 14 from
being parole eligible. However, someone convicted of a multiple,
specific acts of abuse against a child or children under age 14 remains
parole eligible. Does this legislative classification violate the federal
constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws, especially
when, as here, a defendant is convicted of both continuous sexual
abuse, which is not parole eligible, and specific acts of abuse, which
are parole eligible.
On Monday, the justices met for their September 26 conference. They issued orders from this conference on Thursday. The court granted certiorari in nine cases, consolidating two. The October sitting will begin on October 3; the argument calendar for that sitting is available on the court's website.
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