455 U.S. 971 (1982)

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U.S. Supreme Court

SPRADLING v. TEXAS , 455 U.S. 971 (1982)

455 U.S. 971

Hubert Richard SPRADLING, petitioner,
TEXAS and Ronald Dale DUNN, petitioner,
No. 81-353

Supreme Court of the United States

February 22, 1982

On petition for writ of certiorari to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas.

The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice BRENNAN, with whom Justice MARSHALL joins, dissenting.

On September 4, 1980, two women, Vicki Rash Norvell and Bobby Folks Rash, while walking together, were killed by the driver of a hit-and-run automobile. Petitioner Spradling later identified himself as the driver and two indictments were presented against him on October 1, 1980. The first charged Spradling with failing to stop and render aidd to Vicki Rash Norvell, a felony under Texas law. The second indictment, in identical language, charged Spradling with failing to stop and render aid to Bobby Folks Rash. Spradling was

Page 455 U.S. 971 , 972

convicted by a jury under the first indictment. The jury assessed as punishment a 5-year prison sentence and a fine of $5,000, and recommended that, in light of the fact that petitioner had never before been convicted of a felony, his prison sentence be suspended. Now the State seeks to prosecute Spradling under the second indictment.

Petitioner moved to dismiss this second indictment claiming former jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied leave to file an application for a writ of prohibition.

Petitioner presents two questions for review. First, he argues that the failure of the State of Texas to afford him review of the trial court's denial of his motion to dismiss for reason of former jeopardy violates the due process and equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment. Second, petitioner argues the "merits" of his double jeopardy claim were improperly rejected by the trial court. In my view both questions are substantial and merit review by this Court.


Texas procedure provides no mechanism for interlocutory review in criminal cases; 1 petitioner was therefore unable to appeal the denial of his motion to dismiss on the ground of double jeopardy. It is clear that in most applications the Texas procedural rule barring interlocutory review raises no federal constitutional issue. But as applied to claims of former jeopardy, this procedural rule, in combination with a denial by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of leave to file an application for a writ of prohibition, denies criminal defendants the opportunity to protect, through the state appellate system, their constitutional rights. I believe this raises an issue worthy of our consideration.

We held in Abney v. United States, 431 U.S. 651, 52 L. Ed.2d 651 (1977), that a double jeopardy claim is by its very nature collateral [455 U.S. 971 , 973]

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