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Transfer granted to 'knock and talk' case

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The state's highest court has agreed to hear a case in which the Indiana Court of Appeals split on whether a police "knock and talk" investigation violated a man's constitutional rights.

The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer today to Kenneth Brown v. State of Indiana, No. 11S04-0911-CR-537, in which Kenneth Brown's various drug convictions were upheld by the Court of Appeals. Judges Carr Darden and Margret Robb ruled the knock and talk procedure didn't violate Brown's rights under the state or federal constitutions. Neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion is constitutionally prerequisite for a knock and talk investigation, and suspicion based on an anonymous tip is proper basis for officers to make inquiries of occupants.

Four police officers went to Brown's house in the early morning to talk to him after receiving a tip that a person they had arrested got drugs from Brown. The officers knocked on his front door and when Brown answered, explained the earlier arrest and asked to search his home. Brown allowed only one officer to enter; that officer found drugs.

Judge Paul Mathias dissented, holding that the investigation and search violated Brown's rights under the state constitution. The judge noted the police said they were taking a "crap shot" to get into Brown's house because they didn't have anything to go on. That doesn't amount to a reasonable degree of concern, suspicion, or knowledge that criminal activity has occurred under Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 359 (Ind. 2005).

The degree of intrusion in this case was very high, with four officers and three police cars showing up at the home in the middle of the night. Judge Mathias didn't believe a reasonable person, roused from sleep and faced with these intimidating circumstances, would feel free to refuse the officers' request to search.

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  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

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  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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