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COA affirms denial of motion to suppress

December 6, 2011

The actions of police officers who showed up on a man’s property to investigate a complaint – which led to the discovery of marijuana plants – were reasonable, according to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

John Dora, who owned property in Brown County, argued the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to suppress evidence. Dora held a party for Michael Shearer’s birthday at his property and invited friends over. Shearer lived in the house on Dora’s property and Dora lived in an RV while he was in town. During the party, Holly Parker arrived intoxicated and tried to find Dora, who hid from her in the barn. Parker yelled while kicking and beating the RV. Her cell phone accidentally dialed her daughter’s phone, and her daughter believed her mother was in trouble. Police were called to the scene, but Parker was gone when police arrived.

Shearer and Dora told the officers about the damage Parker caused while there, and the officers, while looking around the RV, discovered marijuana plants growing in a flower bed next to the RV on the driver’s side. Dora was charged with possession of marijuana.

On interlocutory appeal, the COA upheld the denial of Dora’s motion to suppress evidence of the marijuana found in the flower beds. They found the warrantless searches did not violate his rights under the Fourth Amendment or under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

“Dora knowingly exposed the trailer to the Officers and therefore cannot persuasively argue that he had a privacy interest on the driver’s side of the RV. Had Dora simply told the Officers that Parker was not on the property and refrained from describing the damage to the RV and the trailer, the Officers would have arguably fulfilled the purpose of their visit, and been required to depart Dora’s property,” wrote Judge Patricia Riley in John V. Dora v. State of Indiana, No. 07A01-1102-CR-51.

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