Courts of appeals do not have jurisdiction to hear constitutional challenge directly from municipal court says 5th Court of Appeals.

Skeen v. City of Richardson, No. 05-13-00064-CV (Tex. App. – Dallas, May 31, 2013).

This case is of interest to municipal prosecutors in particular. Skeen was found guilty of an automated traffic signal violation in municipal court and challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance under which she was tried. Upon conviction she appealed directly to the Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas, Texas, skipping the county courts all together. Skeen argued that TEX. GOV’T CODE ANN. § 30.00027(a) (West Supp. 2012) grants the courts of appeal jurisdiction to hear the constitutional challenge and she need not go through county court.

Section 30.00027(a) of the Government Code provides, relevant part, that (a) The appellant has the right to appeal to the court of appeals if: (1) the fine assessed against the defendant exceeds $100 and the judgment is affirmed by the appellate court; or (2) the sole issue is the constitutionality of the statute or ordinance on which a conviction is based.  Notwithstanding this provision, the Dallas Court of Appeals held appealing the constitutionality, however, does not create an exception to the statutory mandate that a county court of criminal appeals has sole jurisdiction over appeals from municipal courts.  While the constitutionality may eventually be raised in the court of appeals, direct appeals are not allowed and Skeen should have appealed first to county court.

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