Appeals Court Requests Oral Arguments in Justin Riordan's Case
SAN ANGELO, TX – The Court of Appeals, 3rd District of Texas requested to hear oral arguments in the appeal made by Justin Riordan. The hearing is set for May 11 at 8:30 a.m. in Courtroom A of the Tom Green County Courthouse in San Angelo.
Riordan was convicted in March 2016 for one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child, a first-degree felony, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison with the possibility of parole.
The conviction was the result of a late night house party in Miles where Riordan stayed overnight in 2014. A 13-year-old girl who was sleeping in the same room as Riordan, along with other people, made an outcry shortly thereafter claiming Riordan had forced himself on her. For details on the case see these previous stories:
- Riordan Convicted, Sentenced for Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
- New Witness Says Victim Lied About Riordan Raping Her
- Justin Riordan’s Motion for New Trial Denied
- (Opinion) The Salem Witch Trials of Tom Green County
- Defense: DA Allison Palmer Improperly Bolstered Child Witness to Get Conviction of Justin Riordan
Riordan’s criminal defense lawyer made several arguments why the appeals court should pave the way for a new trial. Judge Barbara Walther at the 51st District Court has already considered granting a new trial but denied the request in April 2016. The appeal was made right after Walther’s decision.
If Riordan wins the appeal, his defense attorney Frank Sellers said the case will likely be set for a new trial. Sellers does not believe the appeals court will reverse and render an acquittal. He is arguing for a new trial based upon procedural errors and that new evidence favorable to Riordan’s defense emerged after the conviction.
Sellers said the decision by the court to hear oral arguments does not indicate a “win” or “loss” for Riordan. The decision to hear oral arguments is generally random, as if the court of appeals is seeking a sampling of its cases to be argued in person as well as through written briefs. Regardless, all cases filed for appeal at this level will be ruled upon, whether or not oral arguments are requested.
“I’d say 50 percent of all appeals have gone to oral arguments,” Sellers said.
The 51st District Attorney Allison Palmer will lead the State’s case. She has yet to file a response to the appeal, but has been granted several motions for an extension. Her last request for an extension was March 10.
Riordan is currently serving a 10-year sentence with the Texas Department of Criminal Corrections. Because the case involves a sex crime against a child and he has a 10-year sentence, he is ineligible to be out on bond.