Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Holds Third Party Doctrine Does Not Apply to the Defendant’s Blood.

Yes. You read that right.

I almost skipped posting this one because my first thought was…. this is a DUI case. Since when is a DUI case going to make it into a compendium about the meaning and scope of the Carpenter decision?

But it is relevant, and it’s a break from the heavy reading to discuss a case where the prosecutor is engaging in creative absurdity.

In this all too typical DUI and manslaughter case, the trial court granted a motion to suppress the State’s seizure of blood vials that were drawn for medical purposes.

The Texas high court affirmed the granting of the motion to suppress, finding a clear Fourth Amendment violation. While they found that obtaining the vial itself with a subpoena was valid, searching the blood itself for the alcohol required a warrant. The Court held that the defendant had an expectation of privacy in any test results that were borne out of the warrantless search.

The Court rejected the contention that the vial was abandoned property, and then turns to the State’s argument which cites Carpenter. The State’s argument is that the third party doctrine controls, and since a third party had the blood vial, the defendant lost any expectation of privacy in the test results from that vial.

The Court politely lambasted that absurd argument, noting that the “third party doctrine has consistently been defined as involving a voluntary turnover of information to a third party.” Noting that there was a lack of voluntariness on the part of the defendant here, the Court found the third party doctrine to be inapplicable.

The case is State v. Martinez, 570 S.W.3d 278, 2019 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 237, 2019 WL 1271173, Ct of Crim Appeals of Texas (March 20, 2019).

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