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COA rules trial court erred in suppressing blood evidence in Bisard case

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The blood of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer accused of driving drunk and killing one motorcyclist and injuring two others should be allowed at his trial for reckless homicide and other alcohol-related charges, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday morning on interlocutory appeal.  

Senior Judge Randall Shepard authored the unanimous 21-page decision in which the appellate court found that the medical assistant who drew David Bisard’s blood did so in a way that followed physician-approved protocols. Bisard moved to suppress the blood test, claiming that Michelle Maga hadn’t followed appropriate protocols and Indiana Code prohibits medical assistants from drawing blood for the purposes of his case.

Bisard was on duty in his patrol car in August 2010 when he hit two motorcycles stopped at an intersection in Indianapolis. Eric Wells died, and Mary Mills and Kurt Weekly were seriously injured. Bisard was taken to Methodist Occupational Health Center where he consented to the blood draw which was performed by Maga.

Test results showed a blood alcohol content of 0.19. Bisard was initially charged with several alcohol-related charges, including Class B felony operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.15 or higher causing death, and reckless homicide. But then-Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi dismissed the alcohol-related charges. When newly elected prosecutor Terry Curry took office, he re-filed six operating while intoxicated charges.

Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins in May 2011 found that Maga wasn’t qualified to draw blood under the state’s implied consent statutes, there was no clear evidence she followed any of MOHC’s protocols for drawing blood, there was conflicting evidence if the tubes of blood were properly handled, and there were questions whether the blood was drawn from the right arm which Maga had inadvertently swabbed with alcohol or the left arm that she swabbed using the proper cleansing solution.

Hawkins did not allow the evidence for the DUI charges, but allowed it for the reckless homicide count.

Indiana Code 9-30-6 and -7 indicate that blood evidence is generally admissible subject to rules of evidence, Shepard wrote, and the spirit of the Indiana Rules of Evidence is to allow any relevant evidence, unless barred by Rule 403. Rule 403 has not been implicated in this case, he wrote.

Maga’s taking of Bisard’s blood conformed to a protocol prepared by a physician, the judges ruled, and Maga testified that she did gently invert the tubes eight to 10 times to mix the blood as required and that she drew his blood from the arm swabbed with the proper cleansing solution. An affidavit from an officer who did not witness the blood draw said another officer told him that Maga took the blood from the wrong arm, but “a probable cause affidavit signed by someone who was not present holds little to no weight on this point,” Shepard wrote.

The judges also found that the fact the person who draws the blood is not on the list in subsection I.C. 9-30-6-6(j) does not compel suppression.

“This is not to say that anyone may draw blood or that it may be drawn in any manner. Rather, subsection (j) tells us that blood may be drawn at a licensed hospital or by certain people if not at a licensed hospital. To the extent that someone else draws blood, the evidence must show that the person is properly trained and performed the draw in a medically acceptable manner. Here, Maga had been trained to obtain bodily substance samples and performed blood draws every day in her position as a medical assistant,” he wrote.

The judges also declined to suppress the blood evidence regarding Bisard’s reckless homicide charge. They sent the case back to Hawkins for further proceedings.

 

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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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