Weekly Case Summaries: June 25, 2010

Texas Supreme Court

In the Matter of B.W.

06/18/10: Cite No. 08-1044

Issue:

May a child under the age of fourteen be charged with prostitution?

Holding:

No. They lack the capacity to consent to sex as a matter of law under Penal Code §22.021 (Aggravated Sexual Assault), demonstrating the Legislature's intent that such children be considered a victim, not an offender. Read Opinion.

Dissent:

Justice Wainwright states that the statutory language includes 13-year-olds and that the lead opinion removes children from the help that the juvenile system could provide, contrary to the clear intent of the Legislature. Read Dissent.

Commentary:

The majority opinion is clearly more about policy than it is about statutory construction. Hopefully, Children's Protective Services will be able to successfully intervene on behalf of young children who have become the victims of predators. This particular juvenile defendant had been placed in CPS custody when she was eleven, and she eventually ran away. CPS had not seen her for fourteen months when she was arrested for engaging in prostitution.

Texas Courts of Appeals

Campbell v State

06/17/10 : Cite No. 2-08-262-CR

Issue:

Is a DWI defendant initially arrested for PI entitled to Miranda warnings at the time of that PI arrest?

Holding:

Yes. The defendant's initial statements to the officer were not custodial, but when the officer took the defendant's keys, handcuffed him, and placed him under arrest for PI, those acts triggering Miranda; however, the court held that there was no harm in admitting the defendant's post-arrest statements. Read Opinion.

Commentary:

This is a very thorough and very well researched opinion. You definitely need to be aware of it if you handle driving while intoxicated or other similar cases on a regular basis. The conviction is saved by a harmless error analysis, but the holding on the merits of whether or not the defendant was in custody may survive.

Ex Parte Dangelo

06/17/10: Cite Nos. 2-09-266-CR and 2-09-268-CR

Issue:

Did the trial court abuse its discretion when it attempted to force a defendant on community supervision for injury to a child to answer questions that could require the defendant to expose himself to criminal responsibility for a new sex crime?

Holding:

Yes. By instituting new conditions of community supervision that forced the defendant to answer questions not related to the underlying crime to which he pled, the court was violating his Fifth Amendment rights. Read Opinion.

Commentary:

The court makes clear that a probation officer can properly ask a defendant about whether he has violated the conditions of his probation, but only if those violations do not themselves constitute new crimes. The defendant cannot be asked to incriminate himself about those matters. This is a very important issue, and I would expect and hope that it would be reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeals on petition for discretionary review.

State v Jordan

06/17/10 : Cite No. 03-09-00530-CR

Issue:

Did the search warrant affidavit for a blood sample in a DWI case show probable cause?

Holding:

No. The affidavit did not state a date or time at which the DWI occurred, so the judge had no way to conclude that a blood draw would yield any evidence of the DWI. Read Opinion.

Commentary:

Oh, please. Okay, so maybe the warrant could have been more clear. But when read in a common-sense manner (as is required), it is clear that this warrant was issued a very short time after the observations of the defendant's driving, especially since the warrant was issued just before 4:00 a.m. on the same date identified in the warrant. The defendant's blood alcohol content at that time would still be evidence that a magistrate could properly order officers to recover.

Limon v. State

06/17/10 : Cite No. 13-08-00551-CR

Issue:

Did the court err when it denied the defendant's motion to suppress evidence based on an illegal entry and tainted consent?

Holding:

Yes. The officer had no search warrant to enter the defendant's home and was unsure if the child who initially gave consent was even a resident. Therefore, the consent given later by the defendant's parents was tainted by this police conduct, as was the defendant's subsequent statement. Read Opinion.

Dissent:

Justice Vela states that the consent given by the parents was sufficiently attenuated from any illegality. Read Dissent.

Commentary:

I am not certain that I like the police work here, but they were investigating a shooting. And the court's analysis leaves much to be desired. The court assumes that the child had been sleeping when the child answered the door. And the court assumes that the child was not thinking clearly and did not understand the officer's statements. No references to the record are mentioned. I am not certain that the Court of Criminal Appeals will want to review this decision, but it is not completely well-reasoned.

 

State v. Robinson

06/16/10 : Cite No. 10-08-00185-CR

Issue:

During a motion to suppress a blood sample drawn under the implied consent law, which party bears the burden to establish that the blood was (or was not) drawn by a qualified technician or other person listed under Transp. Code. §724.017(a)?

Holding:

The defendant bears the initial burden to produce evidence that the statute was violated. However, in this case the State "assumed the risk of nonpersuasion" so the burden shifted to the State, which failed to meet that burden. Read Opinion.

Dissent:

Chief Justice Gray points out that the State's stipulation to a warrantless seizure was limited to that issue, and the State met its burden by establishing an exception to the warrant requirement. The burden to prove any other non-constitutional challenge to the evidence remained with the movant, not the State, and this defendant failed to meet that burden. Read Dissent.

Commentary:

This is the bad thing about a State's appeal. All assumptions are made against the State (as the appealing party).

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