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Checkpoint doesn't violate separation of powers

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The use of sobriety checkpoints does not violate the separation of powers provision in the state’s constitution, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

Philip Cleer, who was convicted of Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration between 0.08 and 0.15, argued the checkpoints violate the Indiana Constitution’s separation of powers provision because conducting checkpoints isn’t specifically authorized by the Indiana General Assembly. Cleer was directed by Indiana State Police to pull into a checkpoint in Indianapolis, where he failed three field sobriety tests and had a blood alcohol content of 0.08.

Cleer claims the General Assembly only authorized the detention of a person when a “law enforcement officer believes in good faith that a person has committed an infraction or ordinance violation. …”  Because he didn’t commit any infraction or ordinance violation when he was directed into the checkpoint, Cleer argues the police were without a legislative basis to detain him. But the appellate court rejected his argument in Philip Cleer v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0912-CR-1193.

“To the extent Indiana Code Section 34-28-5-3 is considered the legislative authorization to detain a person suspected of committing an infraction or ordinance violation, there is no indication that the General Assembly has denied law enforcement the ability to detain a person suspected of committing a misdemeanor or a felony,” wrote Judge Michael Barnes. “Further, Cleer cites no authority for the proposition that the General Assembly is required to specifically authorize detention in all criminal investigations.”

Without more evidence, Cleer failed to show that the checkpoint violated the separations of powers provision of the state’s constitution, the judges unanimously concluded.
 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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