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Specificity of Motion to Suppress

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July 10, 2003, 16:01
Martin Peterson
Specificity of Motion to Suppress
Maybe I am becoming overly sensitive, but I have to question whether a motion to suppress evidence needs to be more specific when, as a basis for suppression, it states merely that "facts" set out in the affidavit used to obtain the warrant were "unlawfully obtained". No clue as to what facts may be talked about at the hearing (if there is one) or in what way they were illegally obtained. I have determined to file a response which cites Mayfield, 800 S.W.2d at 935 and says the motion should be denied without a hearing (which hopefully will actually force a more specific motion). It seems to me that if the State must come forward with all arguments that might support admissibility of the evidence at the hearing, it must have better notice than this to prepare for the hearing. How do you normally handle this type problem? I routinely see motions to suppress which are not tailored at all to the individual case and which are (either intentionally or not) as vague as possible concerning the factual and legal basis for suppression. Is there any good way to "fight back"?
July 14, 2003, 16:24
Jeff Swain
My favorites are the suppression motions that don't cite anything but the Constitution as the basis for suppression. They then contend that EVERYTHING that was done was done unconstitutionally.

I haven't come up with a solution for this problem other than to just call the defense attorney. They'll usually tell me what their particular problem is, or at least agree what particular portions of the facts we're going to be dealing with. Often I find out that they really don't want a hearing and are just filing the motion as a CYA maneuver. I'm not sure what part of the A is covered by filing a motion that is never urged, but apparently it's better than nothing.
July 14, 2003, 20:52
Stephen Hughes
I also have usually had luck just calling the defense lawyer and asking what he or she sees as the issue.

However, making sure that I have a good second chair and at least one throw away witness that knows something of the case makes sure I can string it out if a judge doesn't want to grant a recess for me to get ready once the Defense lawyer discloses what they are serious about. Most judges will just recess the pretrial hearing if I explain that the ball was hidden by the defense and it will be a great waste of time not to give me the chance to get ready.

However, what I don't want to do is encourage the defense not to raise the issue pretrial. If raised in the trial, then no appeal by the State of an adverse ruling.
July 16, 2003, 10:30
John Dodson
I too receive numerous of these global suppression motions. Martin, if you are willing to share, I would like to see your response. My e-mail is Thanks.
September 19, 2007, 20:50
Martin Peterson
I finally have grown so tired of these motions that I have completed some broader research on the issue. I do not expect my judge to change the number of evidentiary hearings. Frown But, for the benefit of all, I share my new standard responsive pleading:



The allegations in the Defendant's motion to suppress evidence fail to adequately describe what deficiencies or illegalities in how the evidence in question was obtained that he may be referring to. The motion is a mere general objection and fails to provide adequate notice of the particular ground or nature of inadmissibility asserted. Cf. Tex.R.Evid. 103(a)(1); Mayfield v. State, 800 S.W.2d 932, 935 (Tex.App.- San Antonio 1990, no pet.); Moreno v. State, 124 S.W.3d 339, 343 (Tex.App.- Corpus Christi 2003, no pet.). The motion is not tied to the facts or occurrences of this case.

The motion should be denied without a hearing. United States v. Hoang, 486 F.3d 1156, 1163 (9th Cir. 2007); United States v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 620-1 (9th Cir. 2000); United States v. Alter, 482 F.2d 1018, 1025-6 (9th Cir. 1973); United States v. Chavez-Marquez, 66 F.3d 259,261 (10th Cir. 1995); United States v. Coleman, 149 F.3d 674, 677 (7th Cir. 1998); People v. Jansen, 713 P.2d 9007, 912 n. 8 (Colo. 1986); State v. Hewins, 166 N.J. Super. 210, 399 A.2d 343, 345-6 (1979); State v. Shindler, 70 Ohio St. 3d 54, 636 N.E.2d 319 (Ohio 1994); State v. Johnson, 16 Ore.App. 560, 519 P.2d 1053 (1974); State v. Clegg, 54 P.3d 653 (Utah App. 2002).

This is because:
The absence of any meaningful statement of facts by defendant prejudices the State in its preparation for the motion, and also hinders the court's research in advance of the hearing. The rule also seeks to avoid the time-consuming taking of testimony solely for the purpose of affording defense counsel additional discovery, and an opportunity to examine the State's witnesses in advance of trial. The motion to suppress is available to defendant in order to resolve questions concerning the validity of a search and/or seizure; it is not just another discovery device.
State v. Hewins, 399 A.2d at 345.

Let me know if you should use this and have any success.
September 20, 2007, 08:22
It is, indeed, annoying that a motion to suppress is only a prelude to a hearing and, then, after the evidence has been presented, we hear a more specific objection. But, I suspect it would take a very confident, knowledgeable judge to demand a specific objection in advance.
September 20, 2007, 10:47
I am sure this is something we should all be pursuing on appeal after lodging our objections at the hearings. How about some cross-appeals on the issue? The motions are an unlimited license to discover and raise anything. The State is not infrequently guessing how best to prepare to respond. We need to stop the sandbagging. Good luck, Martin.

September 20, 2007, 11:43
I know that claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are very hard to win on appeal or habeas BUT don't you think by filing and getting your motion granted you are bolstering the defendant's case of ineffective assistance of counsel? Just a thought... Confused
September 20, 2007, 11:59
david curl
At least in the context of a Franks claim, the cca has recently made clear that boilerplate in a motion to suppress will not preserve anything. Harris v. State, 227 S.W.3d 83, 85 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007)(motion to suppress alleged: "The search warrant was illegally issued because the issuing magistrate was misled by information in the affidavit that the affiant officer knew was false or would have known was false except for his reckless disregard for the truth. . . ."; cca holds: "Such boilerplate language falls far short of what is required under the first two prongs of the Ramsey test.")