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7th Circuit extends search, detainment precedent

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More than two decades ago, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said that a higher precedent allowed not only residents of a home being searched to be detained, but also that visitors to that location could be detained.

With a ruling today, the federal appeals court has extended that precedent to someone who’s left the residence before the search begins, but is suspected of being criminally involved in the activity at that home and is pulled over and detained during the search.

The 39-page opinion authored by U.S. Judge John Tinder in the case of  United States of America v. Derrick L. Bullock, No. 10-2238, comes from the Northern District of Indiana.

Bullock was pulled over in Fort Wayne and detained while police searched a residence he’d been visiting. Police then arrested him for visiting a common nuisance under Indiana law after finding marijuana and crack cocaine and evidence of recurrent, widespread drug activity within the residence. Bullock pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 5-50 grams of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), conditioned on his ability to appeal a ruling by Judge Theresa L. Springmann that denied his motion to suppress the evidence that led to his conviction.

Bullock argued that police didn’t have reasonable suspicion to pull him over a few blocks from the residence he’d been visiting where the drugs were found, nor that he should have been detained during the search. But the 7th Circuit disagreed, finding probable cause and justification under both the landmark case Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) and Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981) which extended the momentary detainment to a resident. Police handcuffed and put Bullock in a patrol car for 30 to 40 minutes and transported him to the scene. The federal appeals judges found that reasonable since police didn’t question or “abuse” Bullock during that detainment.

Noting that it had extended Summers to visitors at a residence in the case of U.S. v. Pace, 898 F. 2d 1218, 1239 (7th Cir. 1990), the panel looked to other Circuits that have extended it further in this case and allowed for Bullock to be detained because of his history and suspected involvement. Some Circuits haven’t extended the higher precedent to these types of circumstances, but the panel found this case warrants it.

Judge Tinder wrote that the officers’ interests in detaining Bullock during the search were not outweighed by the rather limited intrusion on his freedom. The panel also noted that police had probable cause to arrest Bullock as they did, because drugs were visible.

“As the District court found, a common-sense view of the everyday realities of life would lead officers to reasonably believe that Bullock was aware that drug use had occurred inside the residence, and there was evidence that it occurred on more than one occasion,” Judge Tinder wrote. “While the officers could not have been certain that Bullock was aware of the marijuana in the dining room or other evidence of drug activity found in the residence, they had probable cause to believe so based on Bullock’s presence in the house that day and his prior association with the residence that led officers to obtain a search warrant for the premises.”
 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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