Here are a few of the statements found in the Opinion reversing the conviction with an Judgment of Innocence
" In order for Heimlich to commit a theft, however, Heimlich had to actually commit the crime."
"Heimlich remained the only person with a legal ownership interest in the thing of value the check signified-the order to pay $5050."
"The State's argument, however, is based on an erroneous view of commercial paper law."
"While this assertion may be true, it points to the absurdity of the State's logic."
In addition look for and note the violations of basic, fundamental, Rights protected by Constitutional Law
When reading this one should note the violation of inalienable Rights our Constitutions intended to secure. Most obvious and most relevant are:
Protection from Ex Post Facto Laws. For those who are not familiar with latin the protection is expressed in plain English in the International Declaration of Human Rights:
No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offenceat the time when it was committed.
To highlight the importance of this Right note that it was included in the supreme Law of the Land, our Constitution for the United State BEFORE the Bill of Rights were added. It is found in ARTICLE I in both Section 9, as binding on the Federal Government, and Section 10, as binding on the States. It is, of course, also found in our Texas Bill of Rights, Article I, decreed as “excepted from the powers of government, forever to remain inviolate”.
You will see from the Opinion of the State of Texas, as expressed by the Court of Appeals for the 14th Supreme Judicial District, that the act that the State alleged constituted a penal offence (a crime) was nothing more than asking the bank to not pay on a draft. This is a Right protected by State Law and obviously a legal act as it is an act dependent upon the actions of a bank. It is not the person who request the bank not pay, but the bank that actually carries out the act of not paying on a draft!
Protection from Laws impairing the obligation of contracts. This, too, is such a fundamental protection it is found in our US Constitutions first Article in Section 9 as binding on the State of Texas. The same is found in our Texas Bill of Rights. The State had no authority under the Law, no right, no privilege, to interfer with a contractual relationship. Furthermore; as is noted by the 14th Court of Appeals, Heimlich was (and remains) within the terms of the contract. The complainant, the alleged victim, was not acting within the terms of the contract. The complainant the State chose to aid in breech of the contract had appropriated property owned by Heimlich and then held the property hostage to avoid his obligations under the contract. My comments in brackets and blue.
MARCH 11, 1999
This cause was heard on the transcript of the record of the court below. The record reveals error in the judgment. We therefore order that the judgment be REVERSED, the indictment be DISMISSED, the appellant be acquitted, and this decision be certified below for observance.
Fourteenth Court of Appeals
EDMUND BRYAN HEIMLICH, Appellant.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee
On Appeal from the 248th District Court
Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Cause No.674,066
Appellant, Edmund Bryan Heimlich ("Heimlich"), entered a plea of not guilty to the offense of theft of property of the value of more than $750 and less than $20,000.' See TEX. PENAL CODE A~. § 31.03 (Vernon 1994 & Supp. 1998); Act of June 19, 1983, 68th Leg., R~S., ch. 497, § 3, 1983 Tex. Gen. Laws 2917, 2918-19 (amended 1993) (current version at TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 31.03(e) (Vernon Supp. 1998) (setting the dollar amounts for third degree felony theft). He was convicted and the trial court assessed punishment at confinement for four years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division.2 Heimlich raises three points of error to challenge his conviction. We reverse and render a judgment of acquittal. Heimlich was also charged with the misapplication of fiduciary property, but he was found not guilty of that offense.
On August 25, 1993, the complainant received a commission check from the United States Treasury Department for services in selling U.S. Veteran's Administration property. The check, made out for $5050, was necessarily made payable to Heimlich because the complainant, a real estate salesperson, worked in association with Heimlich, a licensed real estate broker. See TEX. REv. Civ. STAT. A~. art. 6573a (Vernon Supp. I99s).
That same day, the complainant went to Heimlich to have the check endorsed for deposit and to have Heimlich contemporaneously issue a check for the commission amount to him. Although their contract only required Heimlich to pay the commission to the complainant within two days after he collected it,4 Heimlich immediately issued complainant a check, postdated for August 26, 1993. The complainant took the endorsed U.S. Treasury check to the bank that afternoon in order to deposit the $5050 into Heimlich's corporate bank account. [the record shows he took it to the bank “that afternoon” after the 3 pm posting time. So the deposit did not show. That one of the reasons for a stop pay order on the post-dated check. The bank said the deposit had not been made This is irrelevant because, regardless, the government (the State) had no jurisdiction for its involvement. But these types of half truths cast aspersion ]
2 Heimlich was subsequently awarded 'tshock probation~" See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. A~. art.
42.12, § 6 (Vernon Supp. 1998). "Shock probation" is the term. used to describe a trial court's action in awarding a convicted defendant probation after the defendant has. already spent some time in confinement. See id
3 Under The Real Estate License Act, a real estate agent, or salesperson, may only accept compensation for the sale of real estate from "the broker under whom the salesperson is at the time licensed or under whom the salesperson was licensed when the salesperson earned the right to compensation." TEX. REV. CIV. STAT. ANN. art. 6573a, § 1(d) (Vernon Supp. 1998). Heimlich was the complainant's sponsoring broker.
4 The pertinent contract provision specifically stated:
Broker agrees to pay Salesperson, within 2 days of collection by Broker, 100% (One hundred percent) of all commissions received as a result of service performed by Salesperson in the business as a licensed Real Estate Salesperson. Any such commission shall be reduced by a portion thereof distributed to other cooperating Brokers who participated in a sale, lease, or rental and earned a portion of the commission thereon, provided however, Broker shall deduct from said Commission an amount equal to any indebtedness owed Broker by Salesperson. Neither party shall be liable to the other for any commission not collected.
The broker and salesperson agreement between Heimlich and the complainant provided for the complainant to pay $300 a rnonth as "Broker's Management Charge." The contract also provided Heimlich the right to deduct the upcoming month's charge from commissions owed the complainant:
"Broker may deduct any part or all past due charges, late charges, managemen fees coming due within the next 10 days, and expenses due Broker, from commissions payable to Salesperson and/or forfeit all or part of Salesperson's Security Deposit".
Page 2 of Opinion
At 3:30 p.m..on August 26, 1993, Heimlich filed a written order to stop payment on his check to the complainant. His cited reason for requesting such action was that the cover charge owed him by complainant was due.5 When the complainant appeared at the bank on August 27, 1993, to cash the check from Heimlich, he was told. Heimlich had stopped payment on the check. Concerned that he would not receive his commission, the complainant immediately went to the check fraud division of the Harris County District Attorney's office and filed a complaint.
Bank records show the $5050 was placed into Heimlich's corporate bank account on August 26, 1993. Nevertheless, when Heimlich appeared at the bank on August 27, 1993, to gain access to the funds, the bank's branch manager informed him the funds would not be available until August 30, 1993. Actually, the bank had placed a hold on the funds based upon representations made to it by a person from the district attorney's office. On September 1, 1993, a Harris County district judge signed a warrant authorizing the seizure of the disputed funds and they were deposited into the registry of the court.
Heimlich was thereafter charged with theft of property of a value of more than $750 and less than $20,000. [Note that Heimlich never appropriated anything. It was the State, acting through a State District Judge at the request of the State's Prosecutor, that committed the theft, the “unlawful appropriation”, the taking. A requirement for a theft.
Heimlich never had possession, management, or control (the elements of “appropriation” of what was alleged to be object of the appropriation. Even if he had possession, management, control of what was alleged to be unlawfully appropriated property, it would not have been a theft (unlawful appropriation) a because He had title, owernship, of the funds (object of appropriation) under both the law of the contract and the laws of the State governing the relationship between a sponsoring broker and his agents. It was the government that did the taking (appropriating). It did so unlawfully. It was a theft committed by government while accusing the victim of the theft as a cover for the consequences it caused for the alleged victim]The State demonstrated at trial that Heimlich was having difficulty in making the rental fees for his office space. He had apparently represented to the landlord that he had a sum of approximately $5000 owed to him, and that he would use the sum to pay for his arrearages. The jury considered the evidence sufficient to prove he intended to permanently deprive the complainant of the commission and found Heimlich guilty of theft.
Heimlich raises three points of error: (1) the trial court committed error by denying his motion to quash the indictment; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support a verdict of guilt to the offense of theft; (3) the trial court erroneously denied his motion for new trial without holding a hearing. Because we hold that he states a sufficient ground for reversal in his second point of error, we do not address whether the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash or in denying his motion for new trial without a hearing.
In claiming the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, Heimlich cites precedent establishing review for factual insufficiency. See Clewis V. State, 922 S.W.2d 126, 129 (Tex. Crim. App. 1996). In making his argument, however, Heimlich asserts the evidence was insufficient, as a matter of law, to establish the necessary elements of theft. This argument is properly categorized under the rubric of "legal insufficiency." See id. at 132-34 (describing legal insufficiency as a question of law "comprising the minimum standard for comporting with federal due process"). Therefore, believing Heimlich is asking for a legal sufficiency review, we accordingly address his point of error.
In conducting a legal sufficiency review, we determine "whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." Jackson V. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979). Where the evidence is legally insufficient to sustain a conviction on appeal, we must reverse the conviction and order a judgment of acquittal because the constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy precludes flirther prosecution of the cause. See Burkholder V. State, 660 S.W.2d 540, 542 (Tex. Crim. App. 1983) (citing Burks V. UnUed States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978)).
The essential elements of Heimlich's conviction. for theft are: (1) he unlawfully appropriated property; (2) with intent to deprive the owner of the property; and (3) the value of the property was between $750 and $20,000. See TEX. PENAL CODE A~. § 31.03(a); Act of June 10, 1983, 68th Leg., R.S., ch. 497, § 3, 1983 Tex. Gen. Laws at 2918-19 (amended 1993); see a/so Thomason V. State, $92 S.W.2d 8, 10 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994) (setting out the elements of theft and noting that, where the State alleges a facially complete offense in the indictment it is held to the offense charged in the indictment, regardless of whether the State intended to charge that offense"). Heimlich argues the evidence fails to show either (1) he acted with intent to deprive the complainant of property, or (2) he unlawfully appropriated property owned by complainant. We agree that the evidence is legally insufficient to demonstrate he appropriated property "owned" by the complainant.
The State correctly notes that the definition of "owner," for purposes of the Penal Code and the relevant statutory provision, is a person who:
(A) has title to the property, possession of the property, whether lawful or not,
or a greater right to possession of the property than the actor; or
(B) is a holder in due course of a negotiable instrument.
TEX. PENAL CODEANN. § 1.07(a)(35) (Vernon 1994).
The State alleges the complainant was the owner oft the check from the Veteran's Administration made payable to Heimlich because he was entitled to the commission the check represented. The State asserts Heimlich acted with intent to deprive the complainant of the commission when he induced the complainant to turn the instrument over to him for endorsement. The State's argument, however, is based on an erroneous view of commercial paper law. [In it's appeal the State also misrepresents the facts with a half truth. Note in the background portion of this opinion where it says "The complainant took the endorsed U.S. Treasury check to the bank". The fact established in the trial was that the instrument was endorsed, but not "turned over" to Heimlich, or "given" to Heimlich, or "taken by" Heimlich. It remained in the possession of the complainant, the alledged victim who failed to deposit it as promptly as he had promised.]
Under Texas's enactment of the Uniform Commercial Code, a check is defined as a draft signed by the drawer, drawn on a bank and payable on demand, containing an unconditional promise or order to pay a sum certain in money. See Tex. Bus. & COM. CODE ANN. § 3.104 (Vernon 1994). The check from the Veteran's Administration was a draft containing an order to its bank to pay $5050 to Heimlich. While the complainant may have actually possessed the piece of paper called a "check," Heimlich remained the only person with a legal ownership interest in the thing of value the check signified-the order to pay $5050. In fact, the complainant could not qualify as a holder in due course of the instrument because he was not a "holder" of the instrument. See Tex. Bus. & COM. CODE ANN. §3.302(a) (Vernon 1994). To be a holder, one must be in possession of an instrument "drawn, issued, or endorsed to him or to his order or to bearer or in blank." TEX. Bus. &COM. CODE ANN. § 1.201(20) (Vernon 1994) (emphasis added). Thus, prior to the complainant's relinquishment of the check to Heimlich, only Heimlich could qualify as a holder.
Nevertheless, the State argues the complainant was in possession of the check. This is correct, but without the value of the promise, which only Heimlich "owned" and could legally act upon, the complainant was in possession of a piece of paper worth, at the most, pennies.7 Thus, Heimlich could not be convicted of theft of property of a value of more than $750 and less than $20,000 based upon his action in obtaining the commission check from the complainant.
The State asserts that Heimlich did not have the legal right to demand the delivery of the check and, hence, the complainant could have foregone ever handing the check over to him. It adds that the complainant could have "experienced a religious revelation" leading him to throw the check away, and yet Heimlich could still not maintain a cause of action against the complainant. While this assertion may be true, it points to the absurdity of the State's logic. If the complainant threw the check away, it would never be $750 and less than $20,000 based upon his action in obtaining the commission check from the complainant. See Freeman v State, 707 S.W.2d 597,603 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986) ("the key to answering the question of which person has the greater right to possession of the property is who, at the time of the commission of the offense, had the greater right to possession of the property").
The State does not argue the evidence showed Heimlich appropriated property of the complainant at some later time. It could not feasibly argue Heimlich was still appropriating the check with intent to deprive the complainant of his property after Heimlich indorsed the check and returned it to the complainant for deposit into Heimlich's account. Obviously, Heimlich could have appropriated the money by gaining possession of the commission funds, using them for his own personal use, and refusing to tender payment to the complainant in the amount and at the time called for in their contract. Even if this is what Heimlich intended in the present case, he was never allowed to "appropriate" the finds because the complainant acted immediately and had legal authorities and the bank place a stop on Heimlich's account before he obtained use of the tunds.8
Therefore, finding the evidence legally insufficient to support a finding that Heimlich unlawfully appropriated property of the complainant's, we sustain his second point of error.
7. The State seems to imply the complainant possessed an equitable interest in the funds covered by the order on the check. Without deciding whether this assertion is true, we note that the complainant's equitable interest would, nevertheless, remain a lesser interest than Heimlich's legal interest until the time that Heimlich was obligated to pay the funds to the complainant.
presented to the drawer's bank and, technically; the Veteran's Administration's obligation to pay Heimlich would remain outstanding. Thus, Heimlich could maintain a cause of action against the Veteran's Administration for the amounts owing because, even though the complainant had performed independent contractor services underlying the reason for payment of the commission, the right to the payment belonged to Heimlich's brokerage firm In this manner, the arrangement in the present case was unexceptional. For example, if an attorney works as an independent contractor for a law firm and renders services for a client, the client pays the law firm for those services and the firm remunerates the independent contractor. Overall, the State's argument simply reiterates the fact that the only "property" the complainant conceivably possessed was the piece of paper upon which the order to pay Heimlich was written.
8 Admittedly, the. situation raised somewhat of a catch-22. If the complainant was afraid Heimlich would steal the finds; he needed to act quickly so that the funds were not squandered by Heimlich. In order for Heimlich to commit a theft, however, Heimlich had to actually commit the crime. In the end, the complainant's swift action may have been the factor that kept Heimlich from committing the alleged crime. [It's unfortunate and disturbing how our Appellate Court justices feel they need to apologise to the Prosecutors when they reverse a conviction. They also seem to feel a need to somehow justify the illegal acts of the actors for the State. This is an example of that. First - No payment was due the agent at the time. Second - even if Heimlich had not paid the agent it would not have been a crime. It would have been a breech of contract and this would have been a matter for our civil courts. Heimlich was the one caught in a catch-22. He could not collect the commission and no payments is due the agent until collection. He could not collect because the government had collected the commission. The government's act of taking it made it impossible for him to collect the commission. Heimlich was not contractually obligated to pay the agent until collection of the commission. Because of what would come due, at a future date, to the agent, the agent was presented as a victim ofHeimlich's lawful act of a request to his bank when the truth to an objective observer is obvious. The agent was a victim of his own actions and the actions the State took upon his request.]
Having taken such action, it is no longer necessary for us to address Heimlich's first and third points of error.
We reverse and render a judgment of acquittal based upon the legal insufficiency of the evidence.
/s/ Paul C. Murphy Chief Justice