ILNews

High court grants 4 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court agreed Oct. 1 to hear four cases, including one dealing with whether a defendant should have a new murder trial and another involving whether a prior conviction in conspiracy to deal in cocaine counts as a conviction for dealing in cocaine under the state's habitual offender statute.

In Chawknee P. Caruthers v. State of Indiana, No. 46S05-0910-CR-431, the Indiana Court of Appeals split as to whether the trial court committed a fundamental error by failing to investigate the impact of threats made against the jury during a murder trial. The majority concluded the lack of questioning by the trial court of the jurors regarding the threats required the murder conviction be overturned. Judge Ezra Friedlander dissented, agreeing with the state that the harmless error doctrine should apply to defeat Chawknee Caruthers' claim of fundamental error.

In Myron Owens v. State, No. 49S02-0910-CR-429, the appellate court unanimously decided that a prior conviction of conspiracy to deal in cocaine qualified as a conviction for dealing in cocaine under the state's habitual offender statute. The Court of Appeals ruled that in order to have convicted Myron Owens of conspiracy to deal in cocaine, the state had to prove he actually dealt in cocaine, and under these particular facts and circumstances, Owens' prior conviction for conspiracy to commit dealing is, for purposes of Section 8, a prior conviction for dealing in cocaine.

In Luis E. Duran v. State of Indiana, No. 45S03-0910-CR-430, Judge Carr Darden dissented from the majority's denial of a man's motion to suppress evidence because the judge didn't believe the police officers were justified in kicking down Luis Duran's door and entering his apartment. Judges Margret Robb and L. Mark Bailey ruled the officers didn't violate Duran's Fourth Amendment rights or his rights under the Indiana Constitution because the Litchfield factors, in their totality, favored a finding the officers' conduct was reasonable.

Police incorrectly believed another man, who they were looking for on a warrant, lived at Duran's apartment. After a delay in answering his door, police kicked it down, entered Duran's apartment and found drugs.

In State of Indiana v. Robert Richardson, No. 49S02-0910-CR-428, the Court of Appeals reversed Robert Richardson's motion to suppress evidence following a traffic stop for a seatbelt violation, finding the police officer's inquiry regarding an object in his pants didn't violate Richardson's constitutional rights or the Seatbelt Enforcement Act.

Using previous caselaw regarding the Seatbelt Enforcement Act, the appellate court ruled it wasn't impermissible under the act for the officer to ask a motorist what the large object in his pants was. The inquiry didn't exceed the scope of police behavior permitted under the Seatbelt Enforcement Act; Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution; or the Fourth Amendment, wrote Judge Paul Mathias.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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