Weekly Case Summaries: July 15, 2011

Texas Courts of Appeals

State v. Ortiz - 7th COA

07/13/11 : Cite No. 07-11-00001-CR

Issue:

During a traffic stop, were the defendant’s two statements on the type and amount of drugs present the product of custodial interrogation?

Holding:

Yes. The defendant should have been read his Miranda rights after being handcuffed and prior to being questioned. Additionally, the question on the quantity of drugs present “was not a general question but one certain to elicit an incriminating response.” Read Opinion.

Commentary:

Pretty hard to argue with the suppression given these facts. A husband/driver who has been handcuffed after seeing his wife/passenger arrested for having a kilo of cocaine strapped to her body sure might think he is under arrest. This case might have come out differently if the officer had said to the husband, “Sir, you are not under arrest, but I need to handcuff you for our safety while we finish investigating your wife’s case. So, what does she have taped to her body?” Or, just go ahead and read Miranda warnings.

Lester v. State

07/13/11 : No. 10-10-00292-CR

Issue:

Is failure to identify a crime of moral turpitude that can be used as evidence to impeach a witness?

Holding:

Yes, in some cases. It is a crime involving moral turpitude when the defendant commits the offense of failure to identify by intentionally giving a false or fictitious name to a peace officer. The offense of failure to identify by refusing to give the requested information to a peace officer is not a crime of moral turpitude. Read Opinion.

Commentary:

The distinction is consistent with the notion that moral turpitude involves dishonesty. Must have been some good assault facts for the jury to give 365 days in jail.

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