May 8, 2020

Court of Criminal Appeals

State v. Arellano

No. PD-0287-19                     5/5/20


Does an illegible magistrate signature on a search warrant render the warrant facially invalid, thereby prohibiting application of the statutory good-faith exception?


No. The Court concluded that the good-faith exception is not automatically precluded where the defect is an illegible magistrate’s signature. The Court indicated that even with such a defect, “a warrant is still a warrant for purposes of Art. 38.23(b).” Thus, the good-faith exception applies when the record establishes that the officer was acting in objective good-faith reliance upon a warrant based upon a neutral magistrate’s determination of probable cause. Read Opinion.


This is an excellent win for the State regarding recent changes to the search warrant statute and how they interact with the statutory exclusionary rule. Nevertheless, if you see that officers are getting warrants where the magistrate cannot be identified, remind them that they should ask the magistrate to print their name as well as sign. It may be that the only way you can prove that the warrant was issued by a magistrate based on probable cause is to find the magistrate that issued the warrant. Because warrants may be issued by a wide variety of magistrates from a wide variety of courts, it may be difficult to determine which magistrate issued a warrant years after the fact. Here, the officer included the information in his report, but that may not always be the case.

Texas Courts of Appeals

Richardson v. State

No. 14-18-00433-CR              4/28/20


Did the Legislature violate the U.S. Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause by enacting a statute providing that no statute of limitations applies to the offense of aggravated sexual assault?


No. The 2007 amendment to Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 12.01 at issue does not violate the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws. Further, because the limitation period for the charged aggravated sexual assault had not expired before the Legislature amended the limitation period, the State’s prosecution of the defendant did not violate the constitutional prohibition against ex post facto laws. Read Opinion.


Someone didn’t research what “ex post facto” meant before making this claim on appeal.

Barnes v. State

No. 14-18-00689-CR              4/28/20


Is the State required to show evidence of an imminent threat of bodily injury for the offense of retaliation against peace officer?


No. The State was not required to show an imminent threat to harm the victim to establish retaliation by threat of assault—the State needed to show only that the defendant intentionally or knowingly threatened to harm the victim with bodily injury. Read Opinion.


This is an interesting case that operates on that boundary of whether a “finger gun” is just words or a threat of harm. The court of appeals sides with the officers. This is probably a situation where any of the defendant’s particular statements would not suffice, but all of them together were enough.

Texas Attorney General Request for Opinion

RQ-0353-KP               Request Received 5/4/20


What is the minimum salary of a county court-at-law judge with 12 or more years of accrued service under §25.0005(a) of the Government Code? Read Request.