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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. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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