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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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