ILNews

Court rules checkpoint unconstitutional

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Indiana police officers are not allowed to target specific people when setting up roadblocks and checkpoints, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals. The court overturned a trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress evidence from two police roadblocks created after breaking up a party.

In Kenneth Scott King v. State of Indiana, No. 58A01-0704-CR-159, King was at a party to which the police were called. After breaking up the party, police set up two checkpoints to search for impaired drivers - one on private property where the party was and one at the end of the driveway on the public street. All vehicles were required to drive through these two points in order to leave the premises.

An officer believed King, who was slowly driving his car, was trying to avoid the checkpoints and stopped him. After administering a portable breath test, King was charged with misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

King filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained during the checkpoint stop, which the trial court denied.

The Court of Appeals ruled the checkpoints were unconstitutional under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The appellate court applied the standard derived from State v. Gerschoffer, 763 N.E.2d 960 (Ind. 2002) to determine whether the roadblocks were constitutionally allowed.

The court found the state failed to provide evidence in support of five out of six of the factors that weigh on the reasonableness of a checkpoint. The state failed to meet its burden to prove the checkpoints were constitutional.

Even by applying federal standards for checkpoints as found in Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 361 (Ind. 2005), the state still fails to prove the checkpoints were constitutional.
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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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