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COA rules police officer's questions not unconstitutional

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a man has incorrectly interpreted the Fourth Amendment in his appeal and that no constitutional violation occurred when he allowed a police officer to search his car.

In Chad M. McLain v. State of Indiana, No. 20A05-1109-CR-480, Elkhart County Police Officer Randy Valderrama pulled over Chad McLain when McLain failed to adequately signal before making a turn. Valderrama approached McLain’s car, requested his license and registration, and as he walked back to his patrol car he noticed McLain appear to tense up and look at the center console. Upon running a check on his license, Valderrama saw McLain had two prior “incidences” for possession of marijuana.

Valderrama issued a written warning and told McLain he was free to go. Valderrama then asked McLain if he had anything illegal in his vehicle, saying he was curious because of McLain’s two prior incidences. He asked if he could search the car, and McLain gave him permission. As the two walked toward McLain’s car, McLain admitted he had a marijuana pipe on the seat and a bag of marijuana in the dash console. Valderrama handcuffed McLain and put him in the back of the patrol car and requested assistance from a canine officer.

The canine officer’s dog alerted police to the presence of marijuana, and McLain was placed under arrest.

On appeal, McLain claimed the search of his car was a violation of his state and federal constitutional guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.

“McLain’s argument is based on the faulty premise that the Fourth Amendment was implicated after Officer Valderrama gave him his license, registration, and the warning citation and told him that he was free to leave.” Judge Terry Crone wrote in the COA opinion. “At that point, McLain was in fact free to leave, and he was not required to answer the officer’s questions.”

Concluding McLain clearly and voluntarily consented to the search, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to admit evidence obtained in the search of McLain’s car.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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