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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. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  2. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  3. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  4. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  5. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

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