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COA rules police can act reasonably to control investigation scene

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Police were justified in handcuffing a woman who they felt was a safety risk inside her home during an investigation, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

In Marvelean Williams v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1105-CR-418, the court affirmed a decision by Marion Superior Judge Barbara Collins involving a woman arrested in January 2011. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers were dispatched to the home of Marvelean Williams to investigate a domestic disturbance. They arrested her husband for battery, and Williams became belligerent and refused to follow orders to stay seated. When she tried to go into the kitchen, police were concerned she might try to get a knife or weapon, so they placed her in handcuffs for their safety. She resisted and was charged with resisting law enforcement, a Class A misdemeanor. At a bench trial she was found guilty.

On appeal, Williams argues that there is insufficient evidence that the officers were lawfully engaged in execution of their duties when they were inside the home. She doesn’t claim the police were unlawfully inside and doesn’t dispute their investigation of a domestic dispute, but she contends that they didn’t have the authority to order her to stop resisting and stay calm.  Although a previous Court of Appeals ruling from 2007 doesn’t discuss the extent of an officer’s power to control the scene while conducting an investigation, the appellate panel found this situation with Williams presented more of a safety risk than that case. The court found she was actively interfering with their investigation, and they had a right to restrain her.

“Williams has not cited any authority to convince us that the officers acted unlawfully when they handcuffed her for safety reasons while they conducted their investigation, and we are not aware of any such authority,” Judge Terry Crone wrote. “Police have a legal right to take reasonable steps to stabilize a situation such as this during the course of their investigation. This is so for both the safety of the officers as well as the citizens present.”

 

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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