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COA: Police escort into home does not violate 4th Amendment

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In a matter of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday decided that a police officer’s refusal to allow a defendant to enter his or her residence without being accompanied by an officer until a search warrant has been obtained is a reasonable seizure that does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

The novel issue arose in Cynthia Sugg v. State of Indiana, 31A05-1208-CR-397, in which Cynthia Sugg challenged her numerous methamphetamine- and marijuana-related convictions. Sugg and her husband in February 2012 separately purchased on the same day from the same drug store a box of 48-pills of pseudoephedrine. Indiana State Police detective Katrina Smith with the methamphetamine suppression unit saw in the National Pseudoephedrine Log Exchange the next day that Sugg and her husband had made the purchases. The two already faced charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, so Smith and other officers went to Sugg’s house for a “knock and talk.”

The officers observed some items outside that could be used to make meth and found Sugg outside with no coat or shoes on. They identified themselves to her and said they were investigating meth manufacturing. Sugg lied to officers about purchasing the pills the previous day and denied the officers entrance into her home. The police sought a search warrant and, during that time, said they would allow Sugg back into her home to get a jacket and shoes only if she was escorted by police so she couldn’t destroy evidence or get a weapon. She allowed it, and while in there, an officer saw marijuana and smelled it.

Sugg was later arrested after the search warrant was executed, convicted on six charges, and sentenced to 10 years. Sugg appealed, claiming the evidence was admitted in violation of the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

The COA affirmed her convictions, relying on the United States Supreme Court case, Illinois v. McArthur, 531 U.S. 326 (2001). The restraint imposed was only for the short time it took to get the search warrant, and police had probable cause to believe her home contained contraband, Judge James Kirsch wrote.

There was also no violation of the state Constitution, the judges held, finding under the totality of the circumstances, the intrusion was reasonable.
 

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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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