CCA Limits DWI Blood Warrants

I’m amazed on how banal DWI blood warrants have become. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Look how far we’ve come in just a few shorts years. The TSA molests plane passengers without cause, and it’s largely a non-issue. The police can demand that you give them your blood, and few seem to care. We’ve had DPS drones deployed for while (since discontinued) and… no one cared. I’m wondering what it willl take before privacy and liberty enter our political lexicon. Is there anything the public won’t suffer in the name of public safety? Moving on.

Let’s talk blood warrant appeals. Today’s CCA case of the day is Sanchez vs. State-
What happened? A judge from Montgomery county signed a warrant to take Sanchez’ blood in Harris County.

Holding- You can’t do that.

Why not? That’s where it gets complicated. The State argues that it’s ok because judges can issue statewide arrest warrants, inter alia. Defense says no way because judges have limited power through the Texas Constitution. I’ll let the court explain.

The State’s argument asserting that the search warrant should be treated as an arrest warrant is without merit. The State ignores the practical differences between an arrest warrant and a search warrant. An arrest warrant protects an individual from an unreasonable seizure of his person and can be issued statewide based upon the assumption that a person is not likely to stay in the geographical proximity of his alleged offense for an extended time. See Steagald v. United States, 451 U.S. 204, 213 (1981); id. at 225 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting). In contrast, a search warrant is issued to protect an individual from an unreasonable search when the particular location of the item is ascertainable. Id. at 213. These differences arise because a search affects a person’s
Some statutory county courts are composed of more than one county. TEX. GOV’T CODE §§ 25.2601-.2606. The laws relating to statutory county courts (including those articulated above) apply equally, with minor exceptions, to such multicounty statutory county courts. Id.

§§ 25.2601(b), 25.2606. Therefore, the jurisdiction of a multicounty statutory county court to issue a search warrant encompasses, but is limited to, the counties of which it is composed. generally less intrusive than a search. See Segura v. United States, 468 U.S. 796, 806 (1984). Consequently, in this case, an arrest warrant would allow police to arrest Appellant but not to draw a sample of his blood. The compelled extraction of blood infringes on Appellant’s expectation of privacy, so before that sample could be taken, a search warrant (not an arrest warrant) was necessary to protect Appellant from an unreasonable search of his blood.

I like ruling for a couple of reasons. Not only because the defense won, but also because search warrant should be limited to judges who are accountable to the local legal community and voting public.

An area not addressed in the opinion is that judges should be somewhat familiar with the area in which they issue warrants. An El Paso judges issuing Texarkana search warrants makes no sense. I think it helps a judge make a probable cause determination if she has a history with the area and local law enforcement.

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