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COA splits over whether pat down after traffic stop was justified

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A majority on the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that a trial court abused its discretion when it denied a man’s motion to suppress drug evidence found on him after police pulled him over for failing to signal a turn. But the dissenting judge believed the arresting officer had sufficient reason to think the defendant might be armed and dangerous during their encounter.

Terre Haute Police Officer Adam Loudermilk pulled over Robert L. Dixon’s vehicle after Dixon turned without signaling. Dixon pulled into a residential neighborhood, parked his car, got out of the car and began to walk away. Loudermilk ordered Dixon back to his car after threatening to use his Taser. After checking Dixon’s license and registration, Loudermilk recognized his name as a possible drug dealer. Loudermilk called for backup and decided to perform a pat-down search of Dixon. The search yielded three baggies of cocaine.

Dixon sought to suppress the drug evidence found on him, claiming the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The trial court denied his motion.

Judge Patricia Riley and Margret Robb reversed, pointing out that Loudermilk did not have any reason to believe Dixon was engaged in criminal activity at the time he pulled him over, he saw no weapon on Dixon when he was out of the car, and there were no open warrants or issues with Dixon’s identification. A Terry stop does not allow for a generalized cursory search for weapons, or any search for anything but weapons, Riley wrote.

Judge Cale Bradford dissented, pointing out that Loudermilk had credible information that Dixon might be a drug dealer. Dixon also appeared very nervous while sitting in the car, rocking back and forth and sticking his hands in his pockets. Bradford believed that the pat-down of Dixon was justified by concerns for officer safety.

The case, Robert L. Dixon v. State of Indiana, 84A01-1307-CR-339, is remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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