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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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  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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