PD-0253-21 & PD-0254-21 & PD-0255-21 06/30/2021
“Contrary to this Court’s prior decision in this case, the court of appeals expressly defied the ordinarily applicable rules for examining a waiver of a defendant’s rights under Miranda and article 38.22 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure by applying the ‘cat out of the bag’ coercion theory to Castanedanieto’s claim that his second police interrogation waiver was unknowing.”
Castanedanieto was arrested for four robberies after midnight. At 3:00 a.m., a detective interviewed him. Castanedanieto was clearly on drugs and expressed some confusion over the Miranda warnings but cooperated and made inculpatory statements. Castanedanieto was arraigned that day and informed of his Miranda rights. Then, around dinner time, Castanedanieto agreed to speak with another detective, who retrieved Castanedanieto from jail, bought him dinner, and brought him to the station. Castanedanieto was again warned and again confessed to the same crimes and more. Both interviews were video recorded. The State sought to introduce the second. Castanedanieto objected, claiming his first confession was involuntary because he lacked a full understanding of his rights and that his understanding did not improve in the hours leading to the second interview, repeated warnings notwithstanding. The trial court suppressed the statements without entering findings or conclusions.
The State appealed. After the court of appeals affirmed, the Court of Criminal Appeals held that decision was improperly based on a theory the State had no opportunity to rebut: that the first statement was coerced, presumably tainting the second. It pointed to the lower court’s partial reliance on a “cat out of the bag” theory as evidence of its use of an improper taint analysis and remanded to the case.
On remand, the court of appeals affirmed again. Observing that, even though admissibility under Miranda and Article 38.22 do not involve a “taint analysis,” the court of appeals held that the first interview tainted the second. The trial judge, the court determined, could have properly found that Castanedanieto’s second confession was motivated by the “cat out of the bag” theory. The court reasoned that the detective’s statements before the second interview implied that Castanedanieto’s first confession could be used against him and that his lack of understanding in the first interview carried over to the second.
The State contends that the “cat out of the bag” coercion legal theory—a dying doctrine—does not apply to Castanedanieto’s argument that his waiver of his rights before the second interview was unknowing. Castanedanieto’s unknowing-waiver trial claim did not involve a coercion theory that would implicate the fruit-of-the-poisonous tree doctrine. Instead, as the Court of Criminal Appeals held, “a failure to comply with Miranda or article 38.22 gives rise to no . . . [taint] presumption and ordinarily does not bar statements made in a subsequent interview that does comply.” Thus, under a proper analysis, Castanedanieto cannot prevail on his unknowingly claim.