Allen v. Texas (original by judge slaughter)Annotate this Case
Appellant Ruben Lee Allen made a facial challenge to the constitutionality of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 102.011, subsections (a)(3) and (b). That statute assessed court costs against a convicted defendant to recoup law enforcement expenses incurred in serving and summoning witnesses for the defendant’s prosecution. The statute was silent with respect to where the funds are directed once received by the district clerk. Appellant argued that because Article 102.011 did not direct the collected fees toward a specific account to be expended for legitimate criminal justice purposes, the statute operated as an impermissible tax on criminal defendants rather than as a permissible court cost, thereby violating the separation of powers provision in the Texas Constitution. The Court of Appeals rejected Appellant’s challenge, acknowledging the statute did not contain any language expressly directing that the collected fees be used for a legitimate criminal justice purpose. But, the court found that because the summoning witness/mileage fee was imposed to reimburse an expense directly incurred by the State in the prosecution of this particular case, it was “unquestionably for a legitimate criminal justice purpose,” which rendered it a constitutional court cost, as opposed to an impermissible tax. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed and affirmed.