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COA: Warrant didn't need to be admitted

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In a case of first impression involving whether an active arrest warrant must be admitted into evidence when the defendant has not challenged the warrant's validity, the Court of Appeals has affirmed an appellant-defendant's conviction of Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana that an officer discovered during a routine traffic stop.

The sole issue on appeal in Josa Williams v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0806-CR-505, was whether the trial court abused its discretion and violated Josa Williams' constitutional rights by admitting evidence of marijuana seized from the appellant's person.

When Williams was stopped for a routine traffic violation Jan. 23, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Demetric Smith discovered there was an outstanding warrant for Williams' arrest. Officer Smith then handcuffed and searched Williams, and discovered a bag of marijuana in Williams' pocket.

On Jan. 24, Williams was charged with Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. A bench trial was held March 12; the trial court overruled Williams' objection to the introduction of the marijuana, because it was "evidence gained as a result of the allege[d] warrant," according to trial records referenced in the Court of Appeals opinion.

After the trial, Williams filed a motion to suppress evidence of the marijuana. The trial court denied Williams' motion April 18, and found him guilty as charged.

"Williams argues that the State failed to prove that the arrest was lawful and that, as such, evidence of the marijuana produced in the search should not have been admitted. See Best v. State, 817 N.E.2d 685, 689 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004) (holding search of defendant's person impermissible where arrest warrant is invalid at time of search)," Judge Terry Crone wrote.

"Here, Williams never challenged the validity of the warrant, and there was no evidence that the warrant was invalid. However, he argues that the State's failure to place the arrest warrant in evidence amounts to reversible error," Judge Crone added.

In a footnote, it is noted that Officer Smith's testimony at trial regarding the existence of the outstanding warrant was enough for this case.

"We note that the warrant was referenced in detail by cause number in the probable cause affidavit filed with the charging information. ... We also note that the warrant is a public record easily accessible to Williams, and there is no indication of any motion to compel discovery of it," Judge Crone wrote.

The opinion mentions an Indiana Supreme Court case, Guajardo v. State, 496 N.E.2d 1300 (Ind. 1986), that notes "the State was obligated to introduce the search warrant and probable cause affidavit into evidence after [the defendant] challenged the adequacy of the warrant," but this does not apply to outstanding arrest warrants.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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