6.27.2012

News From The Texas Court Of Criminal Appeals This Morning



The highest criminal court in Texas has refused to hear the appeal of the murder conviction of Jose Angel Sarmiento in the death of Bettie Walker in Wise County, Texas.

Also, the court decided not to hear the Wise County case of Michael Anthony Almendarez who was convicted of Indecency With a Child and Sexual Assault of a Child.

Both cases had previously been affirmed by the lower court of appeals in Fort Worth.

Orders.

On a note unrelated to Wise County, the all Republican and coservative court held that police may detain a person for simply pulling off to the side of the road on the basis they may need assistance. Think about that for a moment. Talk about a police state! Talk about big government! As the dissent said, "The officer was investigating to see what Appellant was doing, without any reason to think that there was something wrong. That, quite obviously, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment. The majority sets a dangerous precedent here by basically saying that an officer may investigate a person's harmless activities without observing any danger or distress." Preach on. 

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I say this is great. When involved in vestigation of known criminals they need every opportunity to stop them. If you are not guilty of anything you don't have to worry about it...If I need help, I would be glad to have an officer pull in behind me.

wordkyle said...

I'll have to disagree with the claim that the officer investigated "without any reason to think that there was something wrong." The court went through several steps to determine that the officer pulling over to check on the car was reasonable. The officer's claim that if Gonzales had simply driven away he would have let him go seems a bit farfetched, though. What common sense would seem to dictate is that the officer was reasonable to pull over to help, and that the driver was reasonable to assume he was "detained" as soon as the cop turned on his lights. I don't know if such a position would overturn the earlier court's decision, though.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye my dear friend FREEDOM.

Anonymous said...

You're not a cop word so shut up...DO IT NOW!

Anonymous said...

Check=Yes
Detain=No

Anonymous said...

Big Brother is here drones ,police state whats next?

Anonymous said...

Republican police state. They hate police though.

Anonymous said...

As a Police Officer I was complained on for driving past a vehicle sitting on the side of the road and not stopping. The occupants complained that because they were on the side of the road I should have been a good officer and checked on them. They went on to say I am a public servant who failed to serve the publuc who had run out of gas and needed help. So, from what I can see we are judged either way.

Anonymous said...

9:39 agree, "If you are not guilty of anything you don't have to worry about it..." but it is in most departments policy NOT to help, for example help change a tire, or give a ride, but then again as many minuscule laws there are these day, i.e. tail light out, it has gotten to the point of the only way you are not gulty of something, is to have a badge. Oh and 9:59, common sense and the law has not been on speaking terms since the 1950's

Anonymous said...

I think any car out on the road stopped should be checked out by any police car driving by-
Who knows what might be happening-
Me, Myself, and I need all the help I can get!

Anonymous said...

For a party who despises and fears every ounce of government, republicans sure do put an enormous amount of blind trust in police.

Also, for a party who claims to love the Constitution, it seems they care little for the 4th amendment.

Anonymous said...

I pulled off on the side of the road in Bridgeport and an officer pulled in behind me and came and asked me if everything was ok. I was obviously on the phone, so I saw no reason for him to even ask. In hindsight I guess it's not such a bad idea..I could have been having a heart attack or something and trying to call 911. I just thought it was a little weird at the time because I've never had that happen before.

Anonymous said...

I personally will stop to check the welfare of someone on the side of the road and don't mind helping them when they need help. That's why I stop.

Anonymous said...

A car pulled over and the driver is standing beside the car waving their arms, flashing lights, ect to attract help is one thing.

A car simply sitting stopped on the side of the road with no distress signal is another.

The only amendment Republicans care about is the 2nd.

Anonymous said...

If I pull over its because im trying to load a Bowl so just keep driving I dont want to get Smoke in your Eyes

Anonymous said...

Any car stopped on the side of the road is unnatural: Roads are supposed to be driven on. Any policeman should stop and check on a stopped vehicle. And to all policemen and other emergency personnel, THANK YOU for all that you do. The morons on here that talk bad about you don't speak for all of us!

gern blansten

wordkyle said...

1030 - I'm not a cop, but last night I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and watched an episode of "Lawman" with Steven Seagal.

Anonymous said...

11:30......I hate to say it, but you're right about that.

Anonymous said...

You don't know how many times I wished they had stopped to help. Sure wish they had every time.

Anonymous said...

Barry,

Please post your vehicle LP numbers, I'll put them in my note pad and will eb sure to check them against any car I see on the side of the road while on patrol. If it is your car, I'll be glad to "keep on trucking" past you, your wife, your family, or whoever might be in your car. Change your flat yourself, call 911 yourself for any health issues or emergencies that might be present. But if you are in distress and see me driving by, do you dare complain.

Anonymous said...

Twenty years ago the motoring public would stop to check on someone stopped on the side of the road but now days it's a violation of the 4th ammendment? How about don't pullover on the side of the road to do illegal crap and the police won't find you breaking the law when they stop to check your welfare.

Cleverly Disguised said...

As a rule I abhor any infringement of my 4th amendment rights. As a person employed in the criminal justice field (post-conviction); I have witnessed too many excesses by the police, prosecutors and the courts. That being said, a car on the side of a busy road is very often a signal that something is wrong. The engine is having trouble, flat tire(s), transmission problems, etc. The driver may be having a medical event that requires immediate attention and so on. I am conflicted by this ruling. I don’t want the police in my business; on the hand a myocardial infarction is something I would not want to experience alone.

Remote Controller said...

If I am pulled over and I am offered help by an officer then it is welcomed. But if the officer requests to search my vehicle after he has helped me, when I have done nothing conspicuous, then I will feel my rights infringed on.

Anonymous said...

Barry, I agree with you that, if the detention was as you had presented it, it would be a bad 4th Amendment violation.

But there were circumstances that put the officer into the violator's presence legally.
1. Community Caretaking role.
2. Officer Safety:
(a)Let the other guy know that he was a police officer red and blue lights.
(b) Let other traffic on the road know to get over with red and blue lights.
3. Red and blues have multiple meanings or purposes:
(a)Warning of hazard.
(b)Declaration that an emergency vehicle has the right-of-way.
(c)Demand that vehicle or person stop and be detained.
4. Over half of all officers killed in the line of duty or killed in traffic accidents, such as being struck by passing cars while on the side of the road at night. To fail to use emergency flashers for such a community caretaking check would have been foolhardy, and invites accidents. Consider that most police wear midnight blue.
5. A high proportion of drivers are armed. Surprising a driver while walking up to him is dangerous. Walking up unannounced next to a vehicle that begins moving while the driver is unaware of your presence is dangerous.
6. It is thus standard procedure for the safety of all to turn on the red and blue lights when making a roadside encounter. This served a purpose in the legitimate public interest, for the narrow scope of checking on the driver's welfare.

I realize that not all of these points are not referenced in the appellate brief, and thus probably weren't introduced as evidence in the trial court. If I'd been the officer or the prosecutor, they sure would have been.

Just out of curiousity, Barry Green, what would you have preferred the police officer to do:
1. When he saw the car stopped on the side of the road?
2. When he stopped behind the driver?
3. When he turned on his red and blues, but the driver started to drive away, then stopped?
4. When he made contact with the driver, and immediately found that there was reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver was intoxicated?

As a working street officer, I'm genuinely interested in your opinion.

--EmmGee