Reversal in Tyler Court of Appeals for 19-Year-Old Who Couldn't Breathe During Arrest

A police officer had chased and caught the client, slamming him to ground. The police officer did not realize that, by slamming client to the ground and kneeling on his back, the client could not breathe. On the verge of blacking out, the client bit the officer's thumb, not to assault him, but to get the officer to let him up for air. The officer and his partners then gave client the Tyler treatment and took him to the hospital.

Client was promptly indicted for aggravated assault of a police officer, a first degree felony. The client testified and explained that he did not mean to assault the officer by biting him, only to stay alive. At the request of the prosecutor, the Tyler trial judge, the Hon. Jack Skeen, refused the client's attorney's request for a simple and routine jury instruction on the law of necessity, which permits violating the law — here, biting an officer — for a vital reason — here, continuing to breathe.

The jurors convicted and gave a 50-year sentence. The Tyler Court of Appeals reversed for a new trial, explaining that Texas has always permitted jury defense instructions when supported by even slight evidence. See State v. Juarez, No. 12-08-0009-CR (Tex. App. -- Tyler Mar. 25, 2009).

For More Information

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

110 N. College AvenueSuite 1850Tyler, TX 75702
Office: +001 (903) 597-6622 • Cell: +001 (903) 520-1373 • Fax: +001 (866) 698-6883 • E-mail: