Texas Stamp

 

 

MARTINEZ, JUAN, JR.

PD-0878-17 01/24/2018

“The court of appeals erred in holding that the trial court properly granted the defendant/appellee’s motion to suppress evidence that revealed the results of testing of the blood of the defendant/appellee.”

Martinez’s blood was drawn by hospital staff while he received medical treatment immediately after being involved in a deadly vehicle collision. He told the staff he did not want his blood tested, removed his IV, and left the hospital. An officer directed the staff to preserve the sample. The officer seized the samples the next day pursuant to a grand jury subpoena, and the samples were tested by DPS. The trial court held that the warrantless seizure violated the Fourth Amendment and suppressed the test results.

On appeal, the State argued that, contrary to the trial court’s determination, no search occurred because Martinez’s blood was not drawn by law enforcement. The court of appeals disagreed. In doing so, it considered State v. Hardy, 963 S.W.2d 516 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997), State v. Huse, 491 S.W.3d 833 (Tex. Crim. App. 2016), and State v. Comeaux, 818 S.W.2d 46 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991) (plurality op.). Hardy recognized three privacy rights implicated in a state-initiated blood draw—the physical intrusion into the body, the testing of the blood, and the obtaining of the results. Huse held that HIPAA does not grant a right to privacy in BAC test results; therefore, health care providers are not prohibited from disclosing them. The Comeaux plurality determined that a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy in a blood sample given for medical purposes. Here, relying on the trio of cases, the court of appeals held that the subsequent acquisition of Martinez’s blood sample and testing by law enforcement constituted a search; therefore, suppression was warranted.

The State contends that the court of appeals’ decision conflicts with Hardy and Huse because Martinez did not maintain a privacy interest in the blood sample drawn by hospital staff.

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