X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On Jan. 31, 2004, Charles Cannon, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper, stopped Murphy for speeding. Cannon testified that his radar registered Murphy traveling eight miles over the speed limit. As Cannon completed a warning citation, he asked Murphy for consent to search Murphy’s vehicle, because he detected the odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Cannon also testified that Murphy consented to the search. While searching the vehicle, Cannon discovered: 1. a cigar containing marijuana in the vehicle console; 2. a small bag of marijuana inside a black luggage bag; and 3. approximately a kilogram of cocaine in a rear compartment of the vehicle. Cannon arrested Murphy for possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance. On Nov. 17, 2004, Murphy’s charge of possession of drug paraphernalia was set for trial in the Justice of Peace Court, Precinct 1, of Titus County. Murphy waived his right to a jury trial. Both the state and Murphy announced ready for trial, but Cannon failed to appear. After conducting a bench trial, Judge Leo Schakel entered a final judgment of acquittal on the paraphernalia charge. In a written order, Schakel stated that: “[t]he State failed to produce evidence of speeding on January 31, 2004, that gave rise to the stop and search of the defendant and the vehicle he was driving. The state failed to produce evidence that the defendant consented to the search of the vehicle he was driving on January 31, 2004. Furthermore, the state failed to produce evidence that affirmatively linked the defendant with the alleged drug paraphernalia. Because there was no evidence produced that there was probable cause to stop the defendant, that the defendant consented to a search of his vehicle, or that affirmatively linked the defendant to the alleged drug paraphernalia, the defendant is hereby acquitted.” Before Murphy’s trial for possession of a controlled substance, Murphy filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence and a Motion to Dismiss the Indictment based on collateral estoppel. On June 14, 2005, the trial court heard both motions. At the hearing, Murphy introduced evidence of the final judgment of acquittal on the drug-paraphernalia charge. Murphy asserted that, based on the findings of facts in the final judgment of the justice court, collateral estoppel prohibited the state from introducing evidence of Murphy’s speeding or Cannon’s probable cause to stop and detain Murphy. The court overruled Murphy’s objection, and the state introduced the testimony of Schakel and Cannon. Cannon gave testimony to support the state’s contention that there was probable cause to stop and detain Murphy. On cross examination, Schakel testified that he held a bench trial on the paraphernalia charge and that the state presented no evidence to convict Murphy on the charge. Following the pretrial hearing, the trial court denied the motion to suppress and the motion to dismiss the indictment. Murphy subsequently pleaded guilty to the charge of possession of a controlled substance and preserved his right to appeal the trial court’s ruling on the suppression motion and motion to dismiss the indictment. Murphy elected for a jury to assess his punishment, and the jury sentenced Murphy to 10 years in prison and fined him $5,000. On appeal, Murphy contended that the issue of whether Cannon legally detained Murphy was litigated in the justice court: The state announced ready, and in its final judgment, the justice court found that there was no evidence of speeding and thus no probable cause to stop. The state argued that the issue of speeding had not been litigated, the justice court dismissed the drug-paraphernalia case with no final judgment and the ruling on the motion to suppress was not an essential element of possession of a controlled substance. The 6th Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling, stating that collateral estoppel did not apply, because the justice court’s ruling on speeding was not a ruling on an essential element of possession of a controlled substance. Murphy timely filed a petition for discretionary review. HOLDING:Affirmed. Collateral estoppel, the CCA stated, means “that when an issue of ultimate fact has once been determined by a valid and final judgment, that issue cannot again be litigated between the same parties in any future lawsuit relating to the same event or situation.” To determine whether collateral estoppel bars a subsequent prosecution or permits the prosecution but bars re-litigation of certain specific facts, the CCA stated that a trial court must determine exactly what facts were decided in the first proceeding and whether those facts constitute essential elements of the offense in the second trial. The CCA stated that the first prong of its test was not at issue, but found that Murphy failed to satisfy his burden to show that the second prong had been violated. The justice court, the CCA noted, entered a final judgment involving specific facts relating to both the possession of the drug-paraphernalia and the possession of a controlled substance. Nonetheless, those necessarily decided facts were pertinent only to the admissibility of evidence and did not constitute an essential element of the second prosecution’s offense. OPINION:Johnson, J., delivered the opinion of the unanimous court. CONCURRENCE:Meyers, J., filed a concurring opinion in which Keller, P.J., and Price and Hervey, JJ., joined. “Because there is no contradiction between a determination that the State did not show probable cause to stop or consent to search and a determination that Appellant was in possession of a controlled substance; and because the State is not attempting to prove a fact that would lead to a finding of guilt (i.e., that Appellant committed the alleged offense of possession of a controlled substance) after once failing to prove that fact in a full hearing, I agree that collateral estoppel does not apply in this case.”

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.