ILNews

Justices: Arrest was valid

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Supreme Court has reversed a Marion County judge's ruling that officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department don't have arresting authority because they didn't take an official oath following a merger.

A unanimous ruling came today in State v. Cheryl Oddi-Smith, 49S00-0710-CR-396, which stems from Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill's decision involving a three-car accident and subsequent drunk driving arrest a year ago. He ruled that Oddi-Smith's arrest was illegal because the arresting officer was not sworn in after the Jan. 1 merger between the Marion County Sheriff's Department and the Indianapolis Police Department. Only top officials and a few officers took the oath following the merger.

Judge Hill of Criminal Court 18 - himself a former Indiana State Police trooper - noted the main legal issue is whether this merger created an entirely new police agency, and if so then all officers would need to be sworn in again.

The state's high court granted an emergency transfer to bypass the Indiana Court of Appeals because of the public importance of the case, and heard arguments in November.

In its ruling today, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote that all sworn officers of the IPD or MCSD at the time of consolidation satisfied the oath requirement.

"We think it sufficient grounds to say that the arresting officer was recruited, trained, and sworn as an IPD officer and that he took all that with him to the IMPD," the chief justice wrote in the six page ruling.

Chief Justice Shepard also noted that other grounds could exist for which Oddi-Smith's arrest was valid, such as the "de facto officer" doctrine. Rationale was that the internal order relied on by the defense applied to personnel new to law enforcement, and did not require a second oath for those already sworn in before consolidation.

This decision reverses the trial court's suppression and dismissal, and remands it for further proceedings on the merits of the charges against Oddi-Smith.
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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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