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Texas court's order bars Fort Worth killer from appeals


The following story ran in the May 17, 2012, edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Law Professor Meghan Ryan provided expertise for this story.

May 24, 2012

By Dianna Hunt

First he got a life sentence without parole.

Now he's got a life sentence without appeal.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an order this week that will largely prohibit Fort Worth killer Jeff Dodson from filing additional appeals of his conviction in the 2007 robbery-slaying of a Bedford convenience store clerk.

Dodson, who was acting as his own attorney, lost his right to appeal by submitting falsified records to the court in an application for a writ of habeas corpus seeking to overturn his conviction, the state's highest criminal court concluded.

"The writ of habeas corpus is not to be lightly or easily abused," the court notes in a three-page opinion released Wednesday....

Meghan Ryan, assistant professor at SMU's Dedman School of Law, said it's hard to sympathize with Dodson.

"That's certainly a limitation of his rights, but they're not constitutionally accorded rights once he's taken advantage of the process," Ryan said. "When you abuse the process, as the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says, you lose that right."

Ryan said Dodson perhaps should have considered having a lawyer handle the application.

"You know the saying, 'A person who represents himself has a fool for a client,'" she said. "Having a lawyer is a good idea. Perhaps the bigger lesson is don't falsify documents or try to get at the end results by untoward means."...

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