In re Bluitt, No. 18–1053 (Tex. 2020)
Nature of Case: Bluitt had been convicted of various offenses, including sex offenses, in both Colorado and Texas. While serving a prison term in Colorado, Texas authorities moved to have him adjudicated as a ‘sexually violent predator’ and thus indefinitely detained after his release on Colorado criminal charges. Because he was serving prison terms in Colorado, he could not be present for his SVP trial despite Texas statute granting him that right. The trial court made arrangements for him to be ‘present’ telephonically, and he objected to this. Bluitt’s attorney appeared in his stead, and the jury found him to be an SVP. Bluitt appealed and the Texas Court of Appeals reversed, finding that the right to appear at trial meant physical presence. The state then sought review.
Holding: Texas Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals, holding that in the context of Texas’ statutory scheme for SVP proceedings, the right to appear at trial means physical presence.