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COA affirms resisting police conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was hesitant to rely on an Indiana Supreme Court case’s definition of “forcibly resist” because that language doesn’t appear to adequately describe the meaning of the phrase as it has been recently applied.

In Jose Lopez v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0908-CR-464, Jose Lopez appealed his Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement conviction, arguing the evidence of his case showed he was standing his ground and the evidence is insufficient to show he “forcibly” resisted the officers’ attempts to handcuff him.

Two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at an apartment where they found Lopez. Lopez didn’t want to answer the officers’ questions, repeatedly refused to give his name, and when they tried to handcuff him, he resisted. Lopez crossed his arms, pulled away, and continued to refuse to give his hands. He was stunned by a Taser and later put his arms behind his back to be handcuffed.

The COA looked to its own caselaw as well as that from the Supreme Court, including Spangler v. State, 607 N.E.2d 720, 723 (Ind. 1993), and Johnson v. State, 833 N.E.2d 516 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005). In Spangler, the justices ruled someone forcibly resists law enforcement when “strong, powerful, violent means are used to evade a law enforcement official’s rightful exercise of his or her duties.” In Johnson, the panel noted “until we are instructed otherwise by our Supreme Court, we see no reason to apply what appears to be an overly strict definition of forcibly resist.”

Then, in Graham v. State, 903 N.E.2d 963 (Ind. 2009), the high court approved of the language used in Spangler to define “forcibly resist,” while simultaneously approving the holding in Johnson.

“Although the Graham court acknowledged that that the resistance described in Johnson was “modest,” … the Graham court apparently overlooked the Johnson court’s explicit acknowledgement that it was modifying the language of Spangler,” wrote Judge Terry Crone. “Accordingly, we are somewhat hesitant to rely on Spangler’s strong language because it does not appear to adequately describe the meaning of “forcibly resist” as it has more recently been applied.”

But the Court of Appeals found Lopez’s case to be similar to that in Johnson in which the court found sufficient evidence of “forcibly” resisting law enforcement when the defendant turned away and stiffened up.

Lopez did more than passively resist arrest. If the officers couldn’t pull his arms out from under him, it is reasonable to infer that he was forcibly resisting their efforts rather than remaining entirely passive. But Judge Crone also noted the courts can't rely on the amount of force law enforcement uses to subdue a defendant to determine if someone “forcibly resists” because that could lead to law enforcement using more excessive force.

 

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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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