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IBA: Recent Cases Highlight Greater Protection Afforded by Indiana Constitution

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IBA Crim JusticeThe Indiana Constitution often affords criminal defendants greater protections than the U.S Constitution. In the past two months, Indiana courts have demonstrated this to be true, particularly in the context of search and seizure. As show below, in addressing these issues, Indiana courts have expressed a clear willingness to diverge from U.S. Constitutional doctrines when it comes to protecting individual rights.

“Knock-and-Announce” and “Attenuation Doctrine” Under the Indiana Constitution

In the landmark case of Hudson v. Michigan, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the exclusionary rule does not apply when police officers violate the knock-and-announce rule. Hudson v. Michigan, 547 U.S. 586, 594 (2006). In Lacey, the Indiana Court of Appeals departed from the federal standard and found that a knock-and-announce violation may lead to the suppression of evidence.

In Lacey, the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s residence for illegal drugs and weapons. Lacey v. State, 931 N.E.2d 378, 381 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010). The Police Emergency Services Team decided to execute a “no-knock” search because of the defendant’s criminal history. Id. However, this criminal history was never disclosed to a neutral magistrate. Subsequently, the police officers forcefully entered the residence using a ramming device and announced their presence as they gained entry. Id. After a search and seizure, the defendant was charged with possession of a weapon, possession of marijuana, and maintaining a common nuisance. Id. The defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained in the search because the “no-knock” search violated his rights under the Indiana Constitution. Id.

The Indiana Court of Appeals held that “the unilateral decision to dispense with the knock-and-announce rule [was] unreasonable under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution where the relevant facts could have been presented in application for a ‘no-knock’ warrant.” Lacey, 931 N.E.2d at 385. In so holding, the court observed that there were no exigent circumstances to justify a no-knock search. Id. Additionally, the court determined that the officer should have presented the defendant’s criminal history to a neutral magistrate when obtaining the warrant. Id. At 384. The court then determined that the appropriate remedy for the constitutional violation was suppression of the evidence. In so doing, the court explicitly rejected the U.S. Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment analysis in Hudson.

In Trotter, the Indiana Court of Appeals again parted ways with the U.S. Supreme Court with respect to the attenuation doctrine. Under Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the exclusionary rule does not apply when the connection between unlawful police conduct and the subsequent discovery of evidence “become[s] so attenuated that the deterrent effect of the exclusionary rule no longer justifies its cost.” Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 609 (1975) (Powell, J., concurring).

In Trotter, the defendant was charged with two class D felonies for pointing a firearm and criminal recklessness after police officers unlawfully entered a pole barn and discovered the defendant pointing a firearm at them. Trotter v. State, 2010 Ind. App. LEXIS 1686, at *5 (Ind. Ct. App. Sept. 10, 2010). The defendant moved to suppress evidence, claiming that the officers’ warrantless entry into the private residence violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Id. At *5–6. Ultimately, the trial court determined that suppression was not required “pursuant to the attenuation doctrine exception to the exclusionary rule.” Id at *7.

On appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals first determined that the officers’ warrantless entry violated both the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions. Id. At *13. The Court then turned to the State’s argument that the evidence should not be suppressed because the defendants’ pointing a firearm at the officers “dissipated the taint” of the unlawful entry. Trotter, 2010 Ind. App. LEXIS, at *15. The court disagreed, and held that “the attenuation doctrine as it currently exists as a separate analysis to circumvent the exclusionary rule for Fourth Amendment purposes has no application under the Indiana Constitution.” Id. At *17–18. Therefore, because the attenuation doctrine did not apply, suppression of the evidence was warranted. Id. At *18.

Preserving Indiana Constitutional Claims

Lacey and Trotter reinforce the need for Indiana criminal defense attorneys to properly preserve claims under the Indiana Constitution. However, in order to preserve an Indiana Constitutional claim, an attorney cannot merely object to evidence and make passing reference to the Indiana Constitution or even a specific article in the Indiana Constitution. At a minimum, when a litigant attempts to invoke Indiana Constitutional protections, the litigant must “provide a separate analysis of the state . . . [constitutional] claim or argue why it provides protection different than the federal constitution.” Valentin v. State, 688 N.E.2d 412, 413 (Ind.1997).

In Michigan v. Long, 463 U.S. 1032, 1040 (1983), the United States Supreme Court held that when “a state court decision fairly appears to rest primarily on federal law, or to be interwoven with the federal law, and when the adequacy of any possible state law ground is not clear from the face of the opinion,” it is assumed that the decision was grounded on federal law. Similarly, when a defendant fails to provide a state constitutional claim “separate” from a federal claim, our state courts will “only analyze” the claim under federal standards. Games v. State, 684 N.E.2d 466, 473 n. 7 (Ind. 1997) overruled on other grounds.•

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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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