Constitutional Law

Inmate's Guilty Plea Is Overturned Because Proceeding Was Held in Prison Chapel

A Texas inmate who pleaded guilty to assaulting a prison guard in a court hearing held in a prison chapel will get a new trial because the proceedings were not open to the public.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on behalf of Conrad Lilly, who pleaded guilty after a trial judge rejected his request to transfer the case to a real courthouse, according to Texas Lawyer’s Tex Parte Blog. The court opinion (PDF) found a violation of Lilly’s Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

The court did not reach Lilly’s claim that the prison chapel proceedings violated the establishment clause.

The prison chapel has served as a branch courthouse in Jones County, but the state will no longer use it for court cases because of the ruling, Tex Parte says.

Untitled Document

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.