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Appellate court upholds motion to suppress after traffic stop

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a trial judge that a police officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion to stop a driver believed to be intoxicated.

In State of Indiana v. Robert Rhodes, No. 49A05-1012-CR-818, the state challenged the grant of Robert Rhodes' motion to suppress following his arrest on an operating while intoxicated charge. Rhodes drove a friend to an impound lot to recover his car. While there, the company employee believed Rhodes was intoxicated and called police officer Larry Giordano, who often worked off-duty for Angie’s List, which was across the street from the impound lot.

Giordano testified he saw Rhodes leave and followed him. Rhodes didn’t signal properly and made an abrupt left into the parking lot of Angie’s List, so Giordano conducted the traffic stop. Rhodes contended that Giordano turned on his emergency lights as soon as he began following Rhodes, so he signaled to turn into the lot to stop.

Although the trial judge wavered between two grounds for rejecting the state’s arguments as to the legitimacy of the traffic violation, he ultimately granted Rhodes’ motion to dismiss.

The state argued that the officer had two reasons to lawfully stop Rhodes – Giordano saw Rhodes commit a traffic violation by not signaling more than 200 feet before turning, and that the officer had reasonable suspicion that Rhodes was operating while intoxicated.

But the state failed to show that compliance with the statute was possible under the circumstances, wrote Judge Terry Crone. Giordano estimated that Rhodes turned on his signal about 150 feet before turning, but the record doesn’t say whether there was at least 200 feet between the place where he turned on to the street from the impound lot and the place where he turned onto the Angie’s List property.

On the reasonable suspicion argument, the record is vague as to what the tow employee told Giordano regarding Rhodes or his vehicle. One other person also left the lot at the same time as Rhodes. Even if the employee’s tip was sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion that someone was driving while intoxicated, there isn’t evidence that Giordano had any basis to conclude that person was Rhodes, wrote Judge Crone.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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