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COA reverses trial court in OWI case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court’s grant of a truck driver’s motion to suppress evidence, holding that police did not violate his rights in an unusual traffic stop.

In State of Indiana v. Johnnie S. McCaa, No. 56A04-1107-CR-341, police stopped Johnnie McCaa, the driver of a semitrailer, after receiving reports that he had been driving erratically. But because of a pre-existing crash, when police pulled over McCaa, his truck was blocking the only open lane of traffic.

Newton County Sherriff’s Sgt. Shannon Cothran questioned McCaa about his driving, and McCaa said he had been driving erratically because he spilled a can of soda in his lap. Cothran did not observe any obvious signs of intoxication, but because McCaa was blocking the roadway, Cothran ordered him to drive his truck to a nearby gas station. Cothran and another officer followed him, and saw McCaa drive off the road three times en route to the gas station.

McCaa argued that by asking him to drive to the gas station, police created a situation to enhance probable cause to believe McCaa was intoxicated. At the gas station, while his breath test showed no alcohol in his blood, he failed standard field sobriety tests. Cothran took McCaa to a hospital for urinalysis, the details of which were not included in the appeal.

The COA wrote that due to the fact McCaa was blocking the only open lane of traffic, it was not unreasonable to ask him to move his vehicle, nor was it unsafe, as police followed him. It therefore reversed the trial court’s grant of McCaa’s motion to suppress evidence obtained after the initial stop.

Judge Michael Barnes issued a separate opinion and wrote that he “begrudgingly concurred” with the majority opinion, stating: “No mistake should be made that law enforcement officers could or should allow a person to drive a vehicle, observe the driver, and buttress their probable cause because of these observations. These circumstances are the proverbial ‘once in a lifetime,’ fortunately for police.”

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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