Texas Stamp

OSPA Offers Practically Free Traffic-Stop Training for Rural Law Enforcement

Assistant State Prosecuting Attorney John R. Messinger will conduct a 4-hour presentation covering 4th Amendment issues with a focus on traffic stops.  The presentation is accompanied by a paper (distributed in advance) and includes:

∙ Historical perspective
∙ In-depth coverage of controlling law
∙ Discussion of recent cases and pending issues
∙ A quiz!

This service is for small or rural counties that do not have the resources to send officers for training.   Credit can be earned with a department’s approval. 


Call ((512) 463-1660) or email (information@spa.texas.gov) John to schedule a training day for this August (August will be the only time the service is offered).   

The department, county, or city will be responsible for John's mileage reimbursement and overnight residency (if needed). 


PD-0538-17 09/13/2017

“The court of appeals erred in affirming a fine included in the judgment which had not been orally pronounced by the trial court at sentencing.”

The jury recommended a suspended prison sentence and assessed a $10,000 fine. The trial court pronounced Ette’s sentence in accordance with the jury’s decision but failed to mention the fine. The written judgment included the fine.

Ette appealed, arguing that, because the fine was not orally pronounced, it is unlawful and should be deleted. A majority of the court of appeals disagreed. It held that the ambiguity must be resolved in favor of the jury’s verdict, which the trial court accepted. Further, the record shows that the trial court intended to impose the fine. The court included payment of the fine as a condition of his supervision. The dissent maintained that there is no ambiguity; when a fine is omitted, it is inconsistent with the jury’s verdict but not ambiguous. Looking outside the pronouncement to create an ambiguity, as the majority did, is wrong.

Ette complains that the majority erred to follow the Waco Court of Appeals’ “ambiguous sentence pronouncement rule” created in Aguilar v. State, 202 S.W.3d 840 (Tex. App.—Waco 2006, pet. ref’d). Under that rule, the jury’s punishment, the court’s pronouncement, and the written judgment are considered together to resolve an ambiguity. Ette asserts that Armstrong v. State, 340 S.W.3d 759 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011), Taylor v. State, 131 S.W.3d 497 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004), and Ex parte Madding, 70 S.W.3d 131 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002), are controlling and that the dissent properly adhered to them. Under those cases, the oral pronouncement prevails and the written judgment is modified to conform with the oral pronouncement.

Contact Us

Mailing Address

P. O. Box 13046
Austin, Texas 78711-3046

Physical Address

209 W. 14th Street
Austin, Texas 78701


(512) 463-1660


(512) 463-5724