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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In November of 2003, an informant notified Fort Worth police officers that Gustavo Rodriguez’s uncle Eduardo Cantu was selling and transporting large quantities of cocaine in Fort Worth. Numerous narcotics officers began surveillance of Cantu and followed his car to a house at 4316 Goddard St. in Fort Worth. This house belonged to Rodriguez. The officers watched Cantu drive into the driveway and pull around to the rear of the house next to a detached garage. They saw Cantu get out of his car and walk into the garage. A short while later, Cantu came out of the garage. He was carrying a package in his right hand. Looking around nervously, Cantu threw that package into the backseat of his car and drove away. One of the undercover surveillance officers followed Cantu for a few blocks in an unmarked car. When he saw Cantu fail to use a turn signal, he contacted a nearby uniformed patrol officer and asked that officer to stop Cantu for the traffic violation. During that traffic stop, Cantu gave his written consent to search his car. The patrol officer found a brown paper sack containing three brick-like objects that looked like packaged cocaine on the floor board of the left backseat. Cantu then told both the patrol and undercover officers that the three kilos of cocaine in his car came from the garage on Goddard Street and that there was more cocaine at that garage. After arresting Cantu, the undercover officer radioed the other surveillance officers, who were still watching the Goddard Street house and garage, that Cantu had told him that there were at least 10 more kilos of cocaine at that location. One surveillance officer then left to obtain a search warrant. The remaining officers could hear “tool noises, metal on metal banging” coming from the garage. The officers therefore decided to secure the scene to prevent any destruction of evidence. They opened the garage door and saw Rodriguez and two other males taking apart a tool box on the bed of a pickup truck. The officers had the three males sit in one area of the garage until they received confirmation that the magistrate had issued a search warrant. They then searched the garage, found 43 kilos of cocaine and arrested Rodriguez. Authorities indicted Rodriguez for possession of more than 400 grams of cocaine with the intent to distribute it. After the trial court denied Rodriguez’s motion to suppress, a jury convicted him and the trial judge sentenced Rodriguez to 47 years of imprisonment. The 2nd Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling on the motion to suppress, concluding that the affiant’s “mere belief that the residence on Goddard Street was being used to store large amounts of cocaine is not enough to support the issuance of the search warrant.” The 2nd Court also concluded that the facts set out in the affidavit, while they “may lead to a suspicion that contraband might be located at the residence,” did not suffice to give the magistrate “a substantial basis for concluding that a search would uncover evidence of wrongdoing.” HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. The Fourth Amendment, the CCA stated, commands that no warrants, either for searches or for arrests, shall issue except upon probable cause. Probable cause exists, the CCA stated, when under the totality of the circumstances there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found at the specified location. Neither federal nor Texas law, the CCA stated, defines precisely what degree of probability suffices to establish probable cause, but that probability cannot be based on mere conclusory statements of an affiant’s belief. An affiant, the CCA stated, must present an affidavit that allows the magistrate to independently determine probable cause. The magistrate’s actions cannot be a mere ratification of the bare conclusions of others. When reviewing a magistrate’s decision to issue a warrant, the CCA stated, trial and appellate courts apply a highly deferential standard in keeping with the constitutional preference for a warrant. The inquiry for reviewing courts, including the trial court, the CCA stated, is whether there are sufficient facts, coupled with inferences from those facts, to establish a fair probability that evidence of a particular crime will likely be found at a given location. This case, the CCA stated, turned on two simple and reasonable inferences: First, the magistrate could infer that the package of cocaine found in the back seat of Cantu’s car was the exact same package that the police saw Cantu take from the garage and throw into the back seat. Second, “[i]t does not distort common sense or read additional facts into the affidavit to infer from this information” that there were more drugs located at the Goddard Street garage. Thus, the CCA held that these facts and inferences sufficed to establish probable cause. The CCA stated that it must defer to the magistrate’s finding of probable cause if the affidavit demonstrated a substantial basis for his conclusion. OPINION:Cochran, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Keller, P.J., and Price, Johnson, Keasler, Hervey and Holcomb, J.J., joined. DISSENT:Meyers, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Womack, J., joined. “Did officers have a substantial basis for concluding that a search of Appellant’s house would uncover evidence of a crime? Probably. Especially since Appellant’s uncle, Cantu, told the officer who arrested him that Appellant’s house contained at least ten kilos of cocaine. . . . While it’s true that affidavits for search warrants are ‘drafted by non-lawyers in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation’ . . . this does not excuse the affiant from the requirement that the facts must show that there is probable cause to search.”

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