FORT WORTH (CN) – In a highly unusual move, Texas’ highest criminal appeals court has effectively banned additional appeals from a convicted murderer who tried to doctor his records.
Jeffrey O’Neal Dodson was convicted of capital murder in 2008 for the death of Gaurab Rajbanishi, an employee at a Bedford, Texas, convenience store.
His brother, Theodis Dodson, also pleaded guilty to the murder, but denied being the shooter. Both men were sentenced to life in prison.
In his pro-se appeal, Jeffrey O’Neal Dodson altered a transcript of a plea hearing to indicate that Theodis had identified himself as the gunman in Rajbanishi’s murder.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals cracked its whip over the move Wednesday.
“The writ of habeas corpus is not to be lightly or easily abused,” the unsigned opinion states. “We find that applicant has abused The Great Writ by submitting false evidence. We dismiss this application and cite him for abuse of the writ. By that abuse, applicant has waived and abandoned any contention that he might have in regard to the instant conviction, at least insofar as existing claims that he could have or should have brought in the application.”
Dodson’s inclusion of the falsified record also made application a frivolous lawsuit, the panel found.
Tarrant County Deputy District Attorney Jack Strickland, who represented Dodson at trial and on direct appeal, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram such a sanction is rare.
“They don’t find abuse of the writ very often,” he said. “It’s a curtailment of one fundamental institutional right to seek redress through habeas corpus.”
Strickland also expressed his shock over Dodson’s conduct.
“It was pretty transparent,” he told the Star-Telegram. “He might appeal that decision to the federal courts, but federal judges are probably even less patient than the state judges.”
Dodson’s application also alleged prosecutorial misconduct, perjured testimony, ineffective assistance of counsel and actual innocence.