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COA: Teen didn't resist law enforcement

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A teen who refused to stand up or pull up his pants when ordered by a police officer did not resist law enforcement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In A.C. v. State of Indiana, 49A04-0912-JV-682, A.C. appealed his adjudication for committing what would be Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement if committed by an adult. Officer Richard Stratman was dispatched to the lobby regarding the recovery of a runaway juvenile. A.C. was in the lobby of an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department district headquarters with his mother.

A.C. didn’t answer Stratman’s questions, refused to stand up, and didn’t pull his pants up when asked. When the officer attempted to pull them up, A.C. pulled away a little and pulled down part of his pants. A.C. also leaned his weight and pulled away from Stratman’s grasp.

A.C. was committed to the Department of Correction but the juvenile court suspended the commitment and put him on probation.

The Court of Appeals delved into previous caselaw on forcible resistance, referencing Spangler v. State, 607 N.E.2d 720 (Ind. 1993), Johnson v. State, 833 N.E.2d 516 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), Graham v. State, 903 N.E.2d 963 (Ind. 2009), and Colvin v. State, 916 N.E.2d 306 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010).

The Graham court confirmed that it is error as a matter of law to conclude that “forcibly resists” includes all actions that are not passive. Graham refused to put his hands up and give his arms for cuffing. In Colvin, the appellate court noted that the officers testified that Colvin wasn’t complying with the officers’ commands and the officers had to use force to arrest Colvin. Colvin refused to take his hands out of his pockets. Neither case had sufficient evidence to show the defendants forcibly resisted officers.

“Here, there is even less evidence of forcible resistance than in either Graham or Colvin,” wrote Judge Terry Crone. “We observe that although A.C. did not stand up when asked, Officer Stratman pulled him to his feet without resistance. A.C.’s simple failure to stand, without more, amounts to passive inaction and seems analogous to the failure to present one’s arms for handcuffing, which our supreme court has said does not constitute forcible resistance.”

The judge also noted that leaning away and pulling down one’s pants don’t constitute forceful resistance to the performance of Stratman’s duties. Stratman never had to struggle to cuff A.C. or to get him to see medics for an arm injury.

“While A.C.’s conduct may have justified a physical response from the officer, that does not equate to criminal conduct as to A.C. under the supreme court’s current definition of resisting law enforcement,” wrote Judge Crone.
 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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