Proenza v. Texas (original by judge keasler)Annotate this Case
A grand jury indicted Abraham Proenza for Injury to a Child, alleging that he intentionally and knowingly caused serious bodily injury to "AJV" by, among other things, failing to seek prompt medical care for AJV. Proenza's defense at trial was that he lacked the requisite intent to harm AJV because of his genuine, though perhaps mistaken, belief that he could not obtain medical care for AJV without some documentary proof that he was AJV’s legal guardian. This belief was apparently based on a previous occurrence in which Proenza’s father-in-law brought a granddaughter to a medical clinic but was turned away due to the father-in-law’s inability to produce this very kind of documentation. Proenza did not object when the trial judge began asking pointed, substantive questions of a witness bearing crucial defensive testimony. The question presented for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was whether Proenza was barred from complaining of this error for the first time on appeal. The Court held the trial judge had an independent duty to refrain from conveying to the jury her opinion of the case, and Proenza was under no obligation to object mid-trial.