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Although Miranda rights were violated, physical evidence still admissible

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Although a man’s incriminating statements made while sitting in a police car should have been suppressed, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the error was harmless because the physical evidence seized was sufficient to sustain his convictions.

Duane Crocker was charged and convicted of Class C felony dealing in marijuana, Class D felony marijuana possession, and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance after a traffic stop revealed 10 bales of marijuana in the trunk of his rented car.

During the traffic stop, Indiana State Police trooper Joseph Winters instructed Crocker to go sit in the front seat of his police vehicle. The trooper first administered a field sobriety test and asked Crocker questions about his travel plans, and then he produced a Consent to Search or Pirtle form.

As Crocker was reading over the form, Winters said he believed there was marijuana in the trunk. Crocker signed the consent form.

Winters next asked how much marijuana was in the trunk. When Crocker said he did not know, Winters read Crocker his Miranda warnings.

Crocker appealed his convictions contending the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence obtained during his traffic stop. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s judgment in Duane Crocker v. State of Indiana, 79A04-1210-CR-542.

In his appeal, Crocker argued Winters’ questioning was improper because it constituted a custodial interrogation and he had not yet been read his Miranda rights. The state countered that Crocker was not in custody when sitting in the police car and therefore the requirement to give him his Miranda rights was not applicable.

However, the Court of Appeals concluded Crocker was in custody because Winters had a high degree of control over the environment. Therefore, Crocker should have been given his Miranda rights as soon as he was inside the police vehicle.

The court went on to point out that Crocker had been given a written statement of his Pirtle rights which stated he had the right to refuse consent, force the state to obtain a warrant, and speak to an attorney before consenting.

The court found even though Winters did violate Crocker’s Miranda rights, the trooper’s misconduct was not particularly egregious. In addition, Crocker did not admit to knowing that he was transporting marijuana until after he consented to the search of his vehicle.

 

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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