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Appellate court upholds motion to suppress after traffic stop

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a trial judge that a police officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion to stop a driver believed to be intoxicated.

In State of Indiana v. Robert Rhodes, No. 49A05-1012-CR-818, the state challenged the grant of Robert Rhodes' motion to suppress following his arrest on an operating while intoxicated charge. Rhodes drove a friend to an impound lot to recover his car. While there, the company employee believed Rhodes was intoxicated and called police officer Larry Giordano, who often worked off-duty for Angie’s List, which was across the street from the impound lot.

Giordano testified he saw Rhodes leave and followed him. Rhodes didn’t signal properly and made an abrupt left into the parking lot of Angie’s List, so Giordano conducted the traffic stop. Rhodes contended that Giordano turned on his emergency lights as soon as he began following Rhodes, so he signaled to turn into the lot to stop.

Although the trial judge wavered between two grounds for rejecting the state’s arguments as to the legitimacy of the traffic violation, he ultimately granted Rhodes’ motion to dismiss.

The state argued that the officer had two reasons to lawfully stop Rhodes – Giordano saw Rhodes commit a traffic violation by not signaling more than 200 feet before turning, and that the officer had reasonable suspicion that Rhodes was operating while intoxicated.

But the state failed to show that compliance with the statute was possible under the circumstances, wrote Judge Terry Crone. Giordano estimated that Rhodes turned on his signal about 150 feet before turning, but the record doesn’t say whether there was at least 200 feet between the place where he turned on to the street from the impound lot and the place where he turned onto the Angie’s List property.

On the reasonable suspicion argument, the record is vague as to what the tow employee told Giordano regarding Rhodes or his vehicle. One other person also left the lot at the same time as Rhodes. Even if the employee’s tip was sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion that someone was driving while intoxicated, there isn’t evidence that Giordano had any basis to conclude that person was Rhodes, wrote Judge Crone.

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

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  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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