Price Gouging as Texans Prepare to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus
Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers tough penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Texans who believe they've encountered price gouging should contact the Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection.
1. “The Court of Appeals erroneously decided an important question of state law in a way that conflicts with the applicable decisions of the Court of Criminal Appeals, by finding that the knowledge of supporting officers cannot be used to establish probable cause.”
2. “The Court of Appeals failed to conduct the required de novo review of whether the evidence known to Officer Quinn was sufficient to establish probable cause and that failure constitutes a departure from the accepted and usual course of judicial proceedings that calls for an exercise of the Court of Criminal Appeals’ power of supervision.”
Three officers were dispatched to a bar parking lot. Two officers testified that Martinez and a woman were arguing and that Martinez smelled of alcohol and was screaming, swaying, “very aggressive,” and too intoxicated to drive or safely walk home. Officer Quinn, who arrested Martinez for public intoxication, did not testify. The trial court found there was no evidence of what Quinn knew to establish probable cause for arrest and granted Martinez’s motion to suppress.
The court of appeals affirmed because Quinn did not testify and, while the other officers knew sufficient facts to support an arrest, there was no evidence they relayed those facts to Quinn. The Court of Criminal Appeals granted review on its own motion. A plurality indicated the State can rely on circumstantial evidence to prove what the arresting officer knew. The case was remanded for further findings on what facts, based on the circumstantial evidence, were within Quinn’s knowledge.
On remand, the trial court inferred that Quinn heard Martinez yelling and screaming but would not infer either that Quinn was present when other officers perceived signs of intoxication or that he had training or experience to recognize such signs. The court of appeals again affirmed.
The State argues that even without Quinn’s testimony or inferences that Quinn knew what the other officers knew, Martinez’s arrest can be supported by the collective knowledge of all the cooperating officers. The State also argues that Quinn had sufficient knowledge to support the arrest since he heard Martinez yelling and screaming, knew that the incident occurred outside a bar at 11:30 p.m., and would have noticed the odor of alcohol when he arrested him.