Although the Court didn’t issue its weekly order list last Friday, it certainly issued a large number of other orders that day. In addition to requesting full briefing in fifteen cases, the Court also made two new referrals to the State Bar’s (relatively) new pro bono program. Information about the two lucky cases follows the jump. * McCollum v. Smith, No. 07-0758 [docket sheet]. This civil dispute was dismissed by the First Court of Appeals for failure to pay the filing fee or documents sufficient to establish indigence. COA Opinion.

  • Harrell v. State of Texas, No. 07-0806 [docket sheet]. In this case, Harrell was a criminal defendant who pleaded guilty. The trial court ordered that he also pay certain court costs and attorney fees, ordering the withdrawal of those funds from an account in his name. Harrell then filed a notice of appeal and sought to challenge that withdrawal order. The court of appeals held it did not have jurisdiction to do so. COA Opinion Parallel COA Opinion

This is definitely an interesting new program. In the past, the Court had little help in sorting out the merits in these sorts of pro se cases — cases that, due to inexperience by the litigant, often generate complicated procedural issues. In that regard, this program should be a win-win for both the petitioner and the Court. (Respondents who might otherwise benefit from the weaknesses inherent in having a pro se petitioner are perhaps out of luck.)