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Defendant’s argument should be made to rules committee

October 3, 2012

In affirming the denial of a man’s motion to suppress statements he made to an officer at a gas station, the Indiana Court of Appeals pointed out that his arguments pertaining to Indiana Evidence Rule 617 would be better presented to the Evidence Rules Review Committee.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Steven Ferklic found Steven Steele slumped unconscious in his Jeep, which was stopped near an intersection with three flat tires and the engine off. Eventually, Steele awoke, and Ferklic arrested him for misdemeanor public intoxication. Ferklic took Steele to a nearby gas station to administer field sobriety tests on a more level surface. He read Steele his Miranda rights, after which Steele admitted he had driven the Jeep.

The officer then took Steele to a police station to administer more tests, which Steele failed. He was then charged with various misdemeanor and felony drunken-driving counts.

Steele sought to have his statements made to Ferklic at the gas station suppressed based on Ind. Evidence Rule 617, which says evidence of a statement made by someone during a custodial interrogation in a place of detention shall not be admitted against the person unless an electronic recording of the statement was made, with a few exceptions. Steele claims Ferklic violated this rule by not transporting him to a “place of detention” to record his statement.

“Two observations are in order. One, Evidence Rule 617 does not apply in this case because Officer Ferklic’s interrogation of Steele did not occur in a Place of Detention. And two, the rule does not, either explicitly or implicitly, impose an affirmative duty on law enforcement officers to transport a person to a Place of Detention before conducting a Custodial Interrogation. Steele’s policy arguments for imposing such a duty should be directed to the Evidence Rules Review Committee, which may recommend to the Indiana Supreme Court that the rule be amended accordingly,” Judge Terry Crone wrote in Steven B. Steele v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1202-CR-54.

 

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