Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Criminal Law Series

Part II in Motion to Suppress Week:

A motion to suppress is a powerful tool because it can be used in so many ways. Today in part two of "Motion to Suppress" week, the Criminal Law Series travels to Houston to investigate a claim by a convicted drunk driver that the arresting officer was not a "real" police officer and thus had not the power to arrest.


Defendant was driving on the Rice University Campus when he was pulled over and arrested for DWI by a Rice University Police Officer. Defendant was convicted and appealed. He claimed that the police officer lacked authority to enforce state laws. In effect, defendant claimed that the police officer was a psuedo-officer with only, at best, marginal enforcement powers.

The Appeals Court disagreed on a purely statutory basis. The court cited the Texas Transportation Code, which gives institutions of higher learning the authority to enforce state law on its campuses. Further, the code gives such institutions the power to hire personnell who are granted "the same powers, privileges, and immunities of peace officers while on the property under he control of institutions of higher education." Thus, the Rice University Police Officer was empowered to pull over and arrest defendant for any violation of state law, DWI included.

Laura Carter, Justice
Panel consists of justices Taft, Higley, and Bland.
Defendant, Appellant v.
The State of Texas, Appellee
Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas

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