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COA finds man initiated communication with detective

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed the denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress an incriminating statement to a detective because the defendant initiated the discussion and understood his Miranda rights before speaking.

In Brian Scott Hartman v. State of Indiana, No. 68A01-1106-CR-264, Brian Scott Hartman was in jail on burglary charges when a sheriff’s detective asked Hartman about his father. Hartman requested to speak with an attorney, so questioning stopped. The next day, detective Tom Pullins executed two search warrants of Hartman’s property and found the body of the father. Pullins went to the jail to read the search warrants to Hartman and ask if he had any questions. Hartman indicated he wanted to speak to detectives, was advised of his Miranda rights, and Hartman waived his rights and made an incriminating statement about his involvement in his father’s death.

Hartman tried to have the statement suppressed at his trial for murder and Class C felony assisting suicide, but the trial court denied it.

On interlocutory appeal, the COA couldn’t find an Indiana case directly on point with this issue and relied on State v. Person, 104 P3.d 976, 980-83 (Idaho Ct. App. 2004), to affirm the lower court. The facts are similar in the Person case, in which the trial court concluded that police had not re-initiated the interrogation, but had appropriately contacted Person to inform him of the charges he faced by reading an arrest warrant to Person.

As in Person, Pullins didn’t re-initiate the interrogation. Hartman initiated further communication by asking whether the search warrant had been served and whether anything had been found. Hartman then told Pullins he wanted to speak with him and waived his Miranda rights before making the statement. Thus, the trial court didn’t err in denying Hartman’s motion to suppress.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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