Articles Posted in Civil Rights

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The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the parts of the opinion of the court of appeals that addressed and rejected J.R.’s challenge to a pat-down search and remanded to the juvenile court to vacate the delinquency adjudication for carrying a handgun without a license (CHWOL) and affirmed the delinquency adjudication for dangerous possession of a firearm, as all parties agreed that double jeopardy principles precluded J.R.’s dual adjudications. The juvenile court found sixteen-year-old J.R. delinquent for committing acts that would be dangerous possession of a firearm and CHWOL, had they been committed by an adult. On appeal, J.R. argued that a pat-down search violated his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches. The court of appeals concluded that the pat-down search was constitutional but that J.R.’s adjudication for CHWOL should be vacated on double jeopardy grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "J.R. v. State" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s incriminating statements made in a motel room during the course of a custodial interrogation without an electronic recording of those statements. Defendant was charged with and convicted of several drug crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that two post-Miranda self-incriminating statements he made to officers in a motel room should not have been admitted into evidence because no electronic recording of the statements was made available at trial, as required by Ind. R. Evid. 617. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a motel room, as used by law enforcement in this case to carry out an undercover investigation and to search a suspect incident to his arrest, is not a place of detention as defined by Rule 617. View "Fansler v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was when public school students are entitled to Miranda warnings at school. B.A., who was thirteen years old, was escorted from a school bus and questioned in a vice-principal’s office in response to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall. Three officers wearing police uniforms hovered over B.A. and encouraged him to confess. B.A. moved to suppress the evidence from his interview, arguing that he was entitled to Miranda warnings because he was under custodial interrogation and officers failed to secure waiver of his Miranda rights under Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute, Ind. Code 31-32-5-1. The juvenile court denied the motion and found B.A. delinquent for committing false reporting and institutional criminal mischief. The Supreme Court reversed B.A.’s delinquency adjudications, holding (1) B.A. was in police custody and under police interrogation when he made the incriminating statements; and (2) therefore, B.A.’s statements should have been suppressed under both Miranda and Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute. View "B.A. v. State" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant’s affirmative actions at trial resulted in a violation of his right to an impartial jury, the invited-error doctrine required that Defendant’s conviction be affirmed. After a second trial, Defendant was found guilty of murder. During trial, defense counsel expressly agreed to the trial court’s constitutionally defective procedure for removing and replacing a juror after deliberations had begun. On appeal, Defendant argued that, despite his acquiescence, the court’s procedure violated his constitutional right to an impartial jury, thus resulting in reversible error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there is no reason to exempt structural errors from the invited-error doctrine; and (2) Defendant invited the error in this case as part of a deliberate trial strategy, and therefore, his conviction must be affirmed. View "Durden v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision to uphold the rulings of magistrates that issued a warrant to conduct a thermal-imaging search of a private residence and a warrant to search the physical premises, holding that probable cause supported both warrants. After conducting an investigation to corroborate an anonymous tip of a potential marijuana grow operation at a private residence, the police received a warrant to conduct a thermal-imaging search of the home. The evidence discovered in the search led the police to request the second warrant to search the premises. The search led to Defendant’s conviction for dealing in marijuana and marijuana possession. On appeal, Defendant argued that both warrants lacked probable cause based on uncorroborated hearsay in the underlying affidavits. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence in the first affidavit to corroborate the tipster’s allegation of criminal activity; and (2) the second affidavit contained sufficient information to establish probable cause under the collective-knowledge doctrine. View "McGrath v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress. As grounds for the motion, Defendant argued that the search warrant authorizing the search was unsupported by probable cause under the Fourth Amendment and that its execution violated the search-and-seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment and Ind. Const. art. I, 11. The trial court denied the motion. A jury subsequently found Defendant guilty of of several drug-related offenses. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under a state constitutional analysis, the police did not act unreasonably under the totality of the circumstances; and (2) under a federal constitutional analysis, the search warrant was supported by probable cause. View "Watkins v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of Class A felony dealing in a narcotic drug. The Court of Appeals reversed Defendant’s conviction, concluding that the police violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they detained and transported Defendant to the police station to await a search warrant and that the trial court erred in not excluding evidence obtained during that detention. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thereby vacating the Court of Appeals’ opinion, and affirmed the trial court’s decision to admit the disputed evidence, holding (1) police officers had probable cause to believe Defendant was in possession of narcotics; and (2) therefore, transporting Defendant to, and detaining him at, the police station to await the results of a search warrant request did not violate the Fourth Amendment. View "Thomas v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing this action brought by the Board of Commissioners of Union County (Union County) seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction against the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Department itself (collectively, INDOT). In the action, Union County alleged that INDOT was negligent in its highway repair efforts, causing damage to the septic systems of three landowners in Union County. The trial court granted INDOT's motion to dismiss, concluding that Union County did not have standing to sue INDOT for injury done to its residents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in dismissing the action because Union County failed to plead any viable theory of standing to support its alleged cause of action. View "Board of Commissioners of Union County v. McGuinness" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction of Class A misdemeanor possession of a handgun with a license, holding that the State’s detention and search of Defendant was unreasonable under Ind. Const. art. I, 11. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction, concluding that Defendant’s behavior in evading police in a high crime area was sufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that crime was afoot, especially where the officers believed Defendant was a truant. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ decision, holding that the police’s investigatory stop, detention, and search of Defendant violated Defendant’s constitutional rights because, although Defendant’s actions were “suspicious,” at the time police moved to detain Defendant, police did not have a reasonable suspicion that he had engaged in or was about to engage in any criminal conduct. View "Jacobs v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that evidence obtained after a search and seizure was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the search and seizure. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, concluding that law enforcement officers had reasonable suspicion to approach and question Defendant after they received a call that someone of Defendant’s description had a handgun on him. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the intrusion by the police was not reasonable in this case. View "Pinner v. State" on Justia Law