Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg
appeal from the County Court at Law No. 2 of Victoria County,
Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Longoria and Hinojosa.
ORDER OF ABATEMENT
case is presently before the Court on the State's motion
to abate for supplemental findings of fact. For the reasons
set forth below, we GRANT the motion and ABATE the case.
the timely request of the losing party in a motion to
suppress, the trial court is required to "state its
essential findings." State v. Elias, 339 S.W.3d
667, 674 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011). "Essential
findings" mean "findings of fact and conclusions of
law adequate to provide an appellate court with a basis upon
which to review the trial court's application of the law
to the facts." Id. (citing State v.
Cullen, 195 S.W.3d 696, 699 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006)). As
relevant here, we must abate for supplemental findings when
the findings that are made by the trial court "are so
incomplete that an appellate court is unable to make a legal
determination." State v. Saenz, 411 S.W.3d 488,
495 (Tex. Crim. App. 2013).
case arises from an encounter between appellee John Steven
Gomez and Officer Justin Horne of the Victoria Police
Department. The encounter began when Officer Horne noticed
Gomez's vehicle in a parking lot early on New Year's
Day and ended in Gomez's arrest for driving while
intoxicated. The trial court granted Gomez's motion to
suppress, and the State made a timely request for findings of
fact and conclusions of law. The trial court issued extensive
findings and conclusions, but the State argues that they are
incomplete and fail to address several potentially
case-dispositive factual matters relevant to whether Officer
Horne's initial contact with Gomez constituted a seizure
for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. The State now seeks a
remand for the trial court to answer the following questions:
1. Does the trial court believe or not believe the testimony
of Officer Horne that when he pulled up to the Appellee's
vehicle the officer did not turn on his overhead lights?
2. Does the trial court believe or not believe the parking
lot where Officer Horne made contact with the Appellee was a
3. Does the trial court believe Officer Horne told the
Appellee or the Appellee's passenger that they were not
free to leave prior to Officer Horne smelling alcohol on the
Appellee? If so, what is the trial court's basis for
4. Does the trial court believe Officer Horne issued any
orders to the Appellee or the Appellee's passenger prior
to smelling alcohol on the Appellee? If so, what is the trial
court's basis for believing that? Also, what orders does
the trial court believe Officer Horne issued to the Appellee
and/or to his passengers?
5. Does the trial court believe Officer Horne drew his weapon
on the Appellee or the appellee's passenger at any time
during the encounter between the officer and the Appellee? If
so, what is the trial court's basis for believing that?
6. Does the trial court believe Officer Horne ordered the
Appellee and/or the Appellee's passenger to exit their
vehicle at any time prior to Officer Horne smelling alcohol
on the Appellee? If so, what is ...