Appellant, a former Dallas Police Department Narcotics detective, was convicted of (1) tampering with physical evidence for knowingly making false statements in a police report, and (2) aggravated perjury for making the same false statements under oath. The court of appeals reversed the convictions, holding that the trial court's admission of extraneous-offense evidence violated Rule of Evidence 404(b) and was harmful. (1) We granted review to address the application of Rule 404(b) in this context. (2) We find that the extraneous offenses were admissible to prove a fact of consequence-appellant's knowledge that his statements were false when he made them.Cochran wrote that additional offenses brought into evidence were probative to rebut lies by De la Paz, noting that:
In each case, appellant's confidential informant planted fake drugs to frame an innocent person. In each case, appellant stated in his police report that he witnessed the contact or delivery. The extraordinary coincidence that appellant saw drug deals that no one else did three different times flies in the face of common sense. Under the "doctrine of chances," evidence of such a highly unlikely event being repeated three different times would allow jurors to conclude that it is objectively unlikely that appellant was correct in his Vega offense report or that he was truthful in his testimonyThe unanimous, per curiam opinion was signed by all the CCA judges except Judge Sharon Keller, who may be busy getting ready for her removal hearing before the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
The Dallas "fake drug" scandal was uncovered because of a 2001 statute requiring confidential informants in undercover drug stings - a law passed in the wake of the Tulia and Hearne cases in which innocent people were set up in undercover drug stings. Then, after the law changed in September 2001 to require corroboration for a conviction, Dallas prosecutors went to look for corroborating evidence in cases involving their most important CI's testimony. That was when they discovered half of all the cocaine seized in Dallas County in 2001 and 75% of the methamphetamines was actually fake drugs used to set up innocent people.
So you never know what kind of dominoes will start to drop when the Lege passes reform bills like that.
As for De la Paz, he's not alone in his culpability, though he's paid the dearest price. At the end of the day, eight different Dallas narcotics officers including De la Paz and his partner signed their names to field tests claiming fake drugs were real, but none but De la Paz have been held to account by the courts.
If the Legislature hadn't installed the 2001 corroboration requirement, a lying informant's word would have been good enough to convict 24 innocent people, they all would have gone to prison or been deported, and this lurid tale of corruption would never have come to light. Makes you wonder if we might see similar revelations down the line if the Lege were to pass a requirement for corroborating jailhouse informants?