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Judges uphold drug convictions and sentence

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A defendant’s argument that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated when police searched his vehicle and found pills failed because the man abandoned his vehicle after the traffic stop. By fleeing, he relinquished any reasonable expectation of privacy in the car, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.

A police officer initiated a traffic stop of Douglas Wilson Jr.’s car after the officer saw Wilson’s car parked in a handicapped spot without a proper plate or permit. After running the vehicle plate, the officer found that Wilson’s license was suspended and he had outstanding arrest warrants. While the officer was radioing about the traffic stop, Wilson got out of his car, locked the doors, and fled.

Police decided to tow the car and found hydromorphone and morphine sulfate pills and cellophane wrappers in the car that were prescribed to Wilson’s girlfriend. Police later found Wilson, and he was convicted of Class B felony dealing in a narcotic drug, Class D felony possession of a narcotic drug, Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, and Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while suspended.

His motion to suppress the drugs found in the car was denied at trial. On appeal in Douglas P. Wilson, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-1107-CR-350, Wilson claimed that admitting the evidence found in the car violated the Fourth Amendment because the officer’s search was unreasonable because it was an improper inventory search. Wilson abandoned his vehicle after the officer initiated a traffic stop, and the judges found his argument that he locked his car and took the keys with him unpersuasive.

There was sufficient evidence to support his drug convictions as Wilson had constructive possession over the pills and a witness saw Wilson trying to sell some of the pills the day before he was pulled over by police. The judges also upheld his 13-year sentence.

 

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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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