LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock Police Department says it’s monitoring a DWI case in which the outcome could change the policy on how officers submit search warrant affidavits.
On June 4 the Lubbock County Court at Law #2 sided with the defense in the case and granted the suppression of evidence obtained through a search warrant for the Defendant’s blood.
Criminal defense lawyer Kris Espino argued that the evidence should be suppressed because the officer submitted an affidavit on July 4, 2018 to the judge without verbally being put under oath or sworn properly. He said search warrants in DWI cases do not require an officer to go personally before a judge. Two officers sign the affidavit, one as the affiant and the other as witness.
The ranking Lubbock officer who witnessed the document testified in a pre-trial hearing and said he did not verbally place the affiant officer under oath. He also said it was not his practice to do so.
The Lubbock Police Department released this statement:
"LPD cannot comment on the specific ruling of cases that are pending criminal litigation. LPD will monitor this case and the outcome to determine if any policy changes are necessary.
Officers are taught to follow the protocols set forth by the Code of Criminal Procedures and established case law.
During the process of submitting an affidavit electronically, officers swear to their statements by signing the document that is witnessed by another peace officer or magistrate."
Lubbock County Court at Law #1 made a similar ruling on June 5 for a case from August of 2018 involving the Texas Tech Police Department. Espino also represents the Defendant in that case.
Espino said in both cases body camera footage shows the officers did not issue an oath or were not sworn verbally before signing the affidavits. He said this violates Fourth Amendment rights of the defendant.
Prosecutors in both cases argued the officers knew of the legal implications and consequences of signing the document and understood they were under oath.
The Lubbock County District Attorney’s office said it could not comment on either case. However, the cases will be reviewed to determine what the next steps will be. Neither case has gone to trial.