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COA affirms trial court in finding drug evidence was admissible

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that a trial court did not err in admitting evidence obtained from a search of a purse and hotel room.

In Canon Harper v. State of Indiana, No. 10A01-1012-CR-687, Canon Harper was charged with dealing in cocaine, possession of cocaine, dealing in a narcotic drug, and possession of a narcotic drug, all Class A felonies; two counts of resisting law enforcement, battery of a law enforcement officer, and possession of paraphernalia, all Class A misdemeanors; and maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony.

In 2008, police noticed that the car Harper was driving had no working license plate light. The officers observed the car pull into a motel parking lot and park. Passenger Adrian Porch got out, carrying a purse toward a hotel room. Before he could enter the room, a woman inside slammed the door shut.

The police officers asked Harper and Porch to whom the purse belonged, and Harper said an ex-girlfriend left it in his car. When asked, both men consented to a search of the purse, which contained 48 grams of cocaine, 30 grams of heroin, scales, razor blades and aluminum foil. One officer placed Porch under arrest, and the other officer attempted to arrest Harper, who resisted and caused the officer to hit his head against the building.

Other officers arrived, and as they discussed the matter with the hotel manager, the manager said Harper had rented the hotel room that Porch had earlier approached. The manager evicted the room’s occupants and gave police permission to search it, whereupon police found about three grams of heroin and a coffee grinder, blender, razor blade and flour sifter.

The appellate court wrote that while Harper did not physically possess any of the contraband, an accused may be convicted of possession charges based upon constructive possession.

Harper’s possessory interest in the vehicle is sufficient to establish his constructive possession of the purse, the COA held.

With respect to contraband discovered in the motel, Harper contends the possessory interest rule does not apply to possession of a premises where the possession is non-exclusive, citing Pier v. State, 400 N.E.2d 209 (Ind. Ct. App. 1980) for support.

But the COA wrote that Harper’s case is unlike Pier, where the evidence established the defendant had been absent from his premises for 48 hours prior to when contraband was found. Harper had checked into the motel room on Nov. 11, 2008, and the evidence was found later that day.

The COA affirmed the trial court in all regards.



 

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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