Articles Posted in Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

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The City of Plano adopted the 2003 International Property Maintenance Code (IMPC) as part of its local Property Maintenance Code. Appellee was charged by complaint with two violations of section 6-46 and the specific subsections of the IPMC for: (1) not maintaining the exterior of a structure in good repair and in a structurally sound manner; and (2) not supplying hot and cold running water to plumbing fixtures in a house. He was convicted of both counts after separate bench trials. Appellee appealed both cases to the county court at law for trial de novo and filed motions to dismiss the complaints because the State failed to allege that he was given notice that he was in violation of the code and then continued to violate the code as required under subsection 106.3. Appellee's motions were granted, and the State appealed to the Fifth Court of Appeals, which consolidated the two cases. The appellate court affirmed the trial court's orders, holding that individual provisions of the code could not be taken in isolation and that, when taken as a whole, the code clearly required notice. The City filed a petition for discretionary review, arguing that the municipal code created two offenses: the one contained within the original IMPC and the one created by Plano that did not require notice. The Supreme Court granted review on the issue of whether appellee was entitled to notice of violations of a municipal code before his subsequent violations of the code could result in convictions. Holding that he was, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the courts below. View "Texas v. Cooper" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the property manager of the Galleria Shopping Mall in Houston, was charged with unauthorized discharge of industrial waste after a pressure-washing contractor allegedly discharged contaminated water while cleaning the Galleria Mall's underground parking garages. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence. The trial judge concluded that the two searches were improper under the Fourth Amendment because both the owner of the pressure washing company, who worked with police on investigating competing pressure-washing companies, and the law enforcement officer were trespassers upon the property at the time they entered, searched, and seized evidence from the Galleria premises. The State appealed and the court of appeals reversed. The court granted defendant's petition for discretionary review and remanded the case for further consideration in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in United States v. Jones.