A recent decision by a Texas appeals court, which ruled law enforcement now has the right to obtain search warrants based on the predictions of forthcoming criminal activity, has instituted a nauseating condition of terror across most of the Lone State, as many residents fear the Fourth Amendment is being used for toilet paper inside the governor’s restroom.
This heavy-handed tactic is the uncivil byproduct of a shady case that took place several years ago, where authorities made the decision to arrest Michael Fred Wehrenberg and several of his friends, after a police snitch reported that the group was “fixing to cook methamphetamine.”
However, instead of seeking out a search warrant based on the word of their informant, officers jumped the gun and instituted an unlawful raid on Wehrenberg’s house -- storming the front door of his residence and detaining him outside in handcuffs while police spent over an hour ransacking the home.
During the search, officers uncovered a wealth of ingredients used to manufacture methamphetamine, including boxes of pseudoephedrine and stripped lithium batteries. Yet, the cops made an error, so before seizing the evidence, they filed a warrant application based solely on the initial information obtained through the rat -- never once mentioning that they had already broken down the door and discovered a potential meth lab.
It court, Wehrenberg’s attorney’s argued that there was technically no evidence that could be used against his client because the materials obtained in the search were removed illegally. The court denied the defense's motion under the “independent source doctrine,” which permits the use of illegally seized contraband if a third party identifies it beforehand, according to reports.
The court found Wehrenberg guilty and sentenced him to five years in prison, where he then filed for an appeal. Interestingly, the Second Court of Appeals sided with the defense and reversed the first court’s decision based on their belief that the evidence used to convict Wehrenberg was illegally obtained by the investigating officers.
However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which has the final ruling on all appeals cases, disagreed with the Second Court, stating that while the evidence may have been illegal obtained, it was permitted based on the word of an independent source.
This means, no search warrant was needed because a snitch gave authorities some indication that Wehrenberg and his crew may be “fixing to” cook meth.
Yet, Justice Lawrence Meyers argued that a snitch stating someone is “fixing to” cook meth is not independent evidence -- it’s a prediction. "It is obvious to me that this search warrant was obtained based upon the officers' unlawful entry into [Wehrenberg]'s residence,” he said. “Search warrants may now be based on predictions of the commission of future crimes.”
If you live in Texas, our advice is to make obtaining legal council your New Years resolution. It sounds like you are going to need it.
Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup; facebook.com/mikeadams73.