Christina Miller invited deputies into her home May 8, 2008, to investigate a report of domestic violence and — after they refused her subsequent requests to leave — was arrested when the officers found drugs there.Reporter Zeke MacCormack summarized, "The central legal issue is whether officers, having completed any investigation required, can remain inside a residence despite being asked to leave. No, ruled the court — deputies should have left and performed the warrant check outside."
The trial court and 4th Court of Appeals rejected her argument that the evidence against her was the fruit of an illegal search, but the Court of Criminal Appeals has reversed those rulings.
The court held that Kerr County deputies — who remained in the home as they conducted a warrant check on Miller — had no authority to stay after concluding the violence report was unfounded. Last month, it granted her motion to suppress the evidence and sent the case back to district court.
The CCA overruled the trial and appellate courts primarily because of police testilying, with the majority opinion declaring that "videotape presents indisputable visual evidence contradicting essential portions of [the officer's] testimony." If the officers had been truthful, their reasons for staying on the premises would have been justified, but video provided "indisputable visual evidence" to the contrary, held the court.
This will likely affect procedures at many if not most Texas departments. At a suppression hearing, the detective involved declared that, "It it pretty standard for us to, when we're in contact with someone, await until we get the warrant check before we break contact with them." Such "standard" protocols now must change or risk evidence being thrown out in yet more criminal cases.
Here's the opinion, written by Judge Johnson, and here's a dissent from Judge Keller, joined by Judge Hervey.