Court of Appeals
Patterson v. State - 4th COA
No. 04-10-00513-CR 8/24/11
Is a deadly weapon finding permitted in a cruelty to non-livestock animal case?
Yes. No law prevents it.
This case does NOT decide whether a deadly weapon finding can apply to conduct targeting an animal other than a human being. The court of appeals dodges that issue by noting a procedural barrier. But, surely the defendant will raise this issue in a post-conviction writ, alleging that the enhancement was a legal impossibility. Perhaps it is time for a PDR. If a deadly weapon finding does apply, this was a good case to apply it. Nasty animal cruelty.
Chavis v. State - 8th COA
Nos. 08-09-00296-CR & 08-10-00025-CR 8/26/ 11 (unpublished)
Did an officer violate state wiretapping law (Penal Code §16.02 and Code of Criminal Procedure art. 18.20) by browsing a suspect's computer files?
No. Applying the interpretation of similar federal law informed the result. The shared files were not "in flight" at the time they were viewed.
The rapidly evolving digital world of communications makes cases such as this very important. The lesson here is that tapping into a computer from a remote location to investigate the content of stored files is not the same as intercepting an electronic communication.
Tellez v. State - 9th COA
No.09-10-00513-CR 8/24/11 (unpublished)
Did an officer have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle based on his in-car computer reporting that a driver's insurance was "unconfirmed?"
Yes. The officer's suspicion of no insurance was reasonable. The system was very accurate and provided other information that the insurance had expired.
Finally, a straightforward and understandable explanation of how the statewide car liability insurance database may be used to initiate a traffic stop. As the court explains, this is really no different than relying on TCIC or NCIC information to come to a reasonable suspicion about a particular fact. Share this case with your law enforcement.