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COA reverses drug conviction due to lack of intent

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The state did not have sufficient evidence to convict a man of possession of cocaine under the intent prong of constructive possession, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. As a result, the judges reversed the defendant’s drug conviction.

In Michael R. Houston v. State of Indiana, 02A03-1303-CR-84, police pulled over a car Michael Houston was driving, which contained three passengers. Houston was not the owner of the car and did not have a valid license. The license plate belonged to a different car, so police towed the car. While inventorying the vehicle, police found cocaine in a baggie between the passenger seat and the center console area. A vial was also found in the center console area, which Houston claimed was urine. The owner of the car, who was in the back seat at the time of the stop, said it was “anointing oil” used by his church.

Houston was charged with and convicted of Class D felony possession of cocaine. Because Houston didn’t have direct physical control over the drug in the car, the state had to prove constructive possession of it. But the evidence presented by the state couldn’t support that Houston had the intent to maintain dominion and control over the drug, the Court of Appeals held. No evidence was introduced that Houston knew about the drug, he did not attempt to flee, and he denied presence of the drug in the car.

The state argued that Houston’s knowledge of the vial in the center console shows he knew of the drug in the car, but there was no evidence showing the vial was connected to the cocaine in any way, the judges ruled.
 

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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