Court of Criminal Appeals Ok’s Illegal Traffic Stops If The Driver Has An Oustanding Warrant

Here’s a paragraph that makes my libertarian blood boil.

So, while the initial stop itself was illegal (emphasis mine), Grijalva never went beyond the bounds of what would have been constitutionally permissible had the stop in fact been justified at its inception. Under these circumstances, applying the law, as we have explicated it in this opinion, to the undisputed facts of the case in our de novo review, we conclude that the behavior of the arresting officers, although clearly unlawful at the outset, was not so particularly purposeful and flagrant that the discovery of the appellee’s outstanding arrest warrants may not serve to break the causal connection between the illegal stop and the discovery of the ecstasy in the appellee’s pants pocket, thus purging the primary taint.

The cops acted illegally, but that’s ok. Ugh.

Today’s case of the day is Mazuca vs. State, from El Paso.

What happened?
The cops pulled over Mazuca for having broken taillights. A quick aside. It seems to me that tail light problems are the new favorite for pre-text stops. If the cops pull you over and tell you your tail lights are out (or dirty), there is a decent chance they think you are transporting narcotics. Back to the story.

Mazuca’s defense lawyer had a pre trial suppression hearing and the judge held that the there was no traffic violation and the Officer wasn’t credible. Ergo, the stop was illegal and the seized contraband (meth) was suppressed. But wait…. Mazuca had warrants out for his arrest. The State appeals and loses the first round, but then comes the PDR, and the CCA reverses everyone.

Holding- You already read that, it’s at the top. Basically, CCA has created an impossible standard for the defense. The defense now has to prove not only that the cops acted illegally (which, under 38.23 should be enough). But that the police illegally pulled someone over on purpose. Pre text stops (in which the cops want to pull you over and follow you until they spot a traffic violation), are still legal, but it appears that illegal pre text stops can result in suppression, even with a warrant.

Constitutional violations are becoming more of an intent crime. For example, if the police destroy the video in your case, that’s ok unless you can show “bad faith”. Which, guess, what? That never happens. So in essence, we have yet another exception to the 4th Amendment, and our State’s exclusionary rule.

It is campaign season, and in our one-party state strict constructionism has become a judicial virtue. With that in mind, here is the Texas exclusionary rule.

38.23 EVIDENCE NOT TO BE USED. (a) No evidence
obtained by an officer or other person in violation of any
provisions of the Constitution or laws of the State of Texas, or of
the Constitution or laws of the United States of America, shall be
admitted in evidence against the accused on the trial of any
criminal case.

38.23 is brilliant in it’s scope and clarity. However, 38.23 is a living breathing ever-changing statute, from which new exceptions and limitations spring worth with abundance. Now we have the “illegal stop with a warrant” exception. You can’t find that in the statute, but that’s what judicial activism does. Somehow I don’t think the Tea Party is going to be outraged. Which is too bad, the Second Amendment matters, but so does the Fourth.

But hey, we found some meth so now we are one step closer to winning the drug war right?

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