Weekly Case Summaries: December 19, 2014

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Texas Courts of Appeals

State v. Rendon

13-13-00665-CR         12/4/14

13-13-00666-CR

Issue:

When a K-9 alerted on an apartment by sniffing the corner of the door, was the sniff unconstitutional because it was in the apartment’s “curtilage,” or was the walkway on which the dog stood part of the apartment’s “common area?”

Holding:

Because the walkway to the apartment door was used exclusively to walk to the defendant’s apartment, the walkway was not part of the “common area”; it was part of the constitutionally protected curtilage of the apartment. Read the opinion.

Commentary:

This case should not be read as to prevent a warrantless “dog sniff” at or near an apartment door in all cases. The facts of this case are distinguishable from the facts that would be developed in most apartment complex cases. The walkway to the defendant’s apartment led only to the defendant’s apartment, and the facts also showed that the tenants often used the walkways to their own apartments for their own personal purposes. Standing alone, however, this would appear to be a faithful application of the Supreme Court decision in Florida v. Jardines. However, the officers conducted their search in this case based upon a warrant that included the dog sniff at the apartment door. The officers still had a great deal more information in the search warrant that should have been sufficient to state probable cause, even apart from the dog sniff at the door. The dog also alerted on a vehicle in the parking lot that was tied to the defendant, and the defendant was tied to another vehicle in which a confidential informant made a purchase of cocaine. This decision should be reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Office of the Attorney General

Opinion for the Hood County Attorney

GA-1094                     12/15/14

Questions:

1) May the sheriff transfer surplus office equipment that was purchased with commissary funds to another office in the sheriff’s department or another department in the county without violating §351.0415 of the Local Government Code?

2) If the sheriff’s department cannot transfer surplus office equipment purchased with commissary funds to another office or another department, must the surplus office equipment be sold at auction and if so, would the proceeds be deposited back into the commissary account or into the general account of the county? 

Opinion:

Transferring equipment purchased with commissary funds to an office or department within the sheriff’s office that does not operate or use the equipment for the benefit of county jail inmates would go beyond the permitted use of commissary funds established by §351.0415 of the Local Government Code.

Equipment purchased with commissary funds that no longer has any use or benefit for county jail inmates may be sold pursuant to §26.152 of the Local Government Code. The proceeds from the sale may be used only in accordance with §351.0415 and should be deposited into the commissary account from which the equipment was originally purchased. Read the opinion.

Supreme Court of New York County – Manhattan

In re Kringle

Issue:

In a formal hearing to have a person committed for mental illness because he claimed he was Santa Claus, were several thousand pieces of correspondence, each addressed to “Santa Claus” and delivered by the United States Postal Service to the defendant, sufficient to show the defendant was actually who he claimed to be and therefore not mentally ill?

Holding:

Yes. If the United States Government recognizes the defendant to be Santa Claus, the court will not disturb that finding. View the proceedings.

Commentary:

The Case Summaries will be on break until 2015. Happy Holidays from TDCAA! 

 

TDCAA is pleased to offer these unique case summaries from the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Courts of Appeals and the Texas Attorney General. In addition to the basic summaries, each case will have a link to the full text opinion and will offer exclusive prosecutor commentary explaining how the case may impact you as a prosecutor. The case summaries are for the benefit of prosecutors, their staff members, and members of the law enforcement community. These summaries are NOT a source of legal advice for citizens. The commentaries expressed in these case summaries are not official statements by TDCAA and do not represent the opinions of TDCAA, it's staff, or any member of the association. Please email comments, problems, or questions to [email protected]