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Court affirms locked glove box search

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Without a case on point for the Indiana Court of Appeals to follow, the state’s second-highest appellate court has followed the direction of federal rulings and national precedent on allowing police to search locked glove boxes without a warrant.

The 2-1 ruling came today in Anthony A. Parish v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-1002-CR-74, in which the majority affirmed the judgment from Allen Superior Judge Frances Gull that denied Parish’s claims that a gun and marijuana found inside his car should have been suppressed because police didn’t have a warrant to search the locked glove box.

Judge Patricia Riley disagreed with her colleagues, finding that police weren’t justified in their warrantless search and that the evidence found inside should have been suppressed. Parish should receive a new trial, she found.

The case involves a September 2008 patrol stop where Fort Wayne police observed Parish’s vehicle making a turn without a signal. The officer recognized Parish as he was a suspect in several shootings, and police were on “high alert” that he was armed following a previous warning that he’d threatened to kill the next officer he encountered.

While waiting for backup to arrive on the scene, the officer ordered Parish out of the car and performed a pat-down search until another officer arrived and handcuffed Parish for another protective search. The first officer began a protective search inside the car and used the keys to unlock the glove box because of suspicions Parish was armed. Inside, that officer found a Smith and Wesson revolver and bag of what was later determined to be marijuana, but after seizing that evidence and checking his license and registration, let Parish leave with a moving citation for not using his turn signal.

Four months after that stop, police arrested Parish after finding the weapon seized matched ballistics to the weapon used in a murder that summer. He was ultimately convicted by a jury in November 2009 on murder, Class B felony robbery, and class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license. He received 86 years incarceration.

Despite Parish’s attempts to have the evidence suppressed on Fourth Amendment illegal search grounds, the trial judge denied those motions setting the stage for this appeal.

In the 15-opinion, Judges Paul Mathias and Cale Bradford affirmed the trial judge’s handling of the case and found the police were justified in searching that locked glove box – though they did point out questions about why police had let Parish leave with only a traffic citation.

The majority determined it was reasonable for the officer to conclude her safety was in danger, and the judges relied on state caselaw allowing for warrantless searches in those situations.

“We think it goes without saying that a glove box is a place where a weapon could easily be placed or hidden,” Judge Mathias wrote, noting that this case is unique because it deals with a locked glove box being searched as part of a protective search. “In other words, does the fact that the glove box was locked mean that Parish could not gain immediate control of any weapon hidden therein? Although there appears to be no Indiana case directly on point, the federal courts of appeal, including the Seventh Circuit, have held that a locked glove box may be searched during a protective search of an automobile.”

The cases cited involved situations where occupants were initially removed from a car during a traffic stop because an officer might be in danger, but the occupants were allowed to return to that vehicle.

That differs from the facts in Arizona v. Gant, 129 S. Ct. 1710 (2009), in which the nation’s highest court ruled those searches weren’t allowed in situations where a driver is arrested and secured prior to that search being done by police.

Judge Riley dissented, saying that the state hadn’t proved that an exception to the search warrant requirement was needed. She cited Arizona v. Gant and how the Supreme Court limited law enforcement’s ability to search a vehicle and that applies here. That precedent guides Indiana law, she determined.

“While we are dealing here with a traffic stop, rather than an arrest, the fact remains that Parish, like Gant, was removed from his car and handcuffed,” she wrote. “Accordingly, because Parish no longer posed a threat, the officers cannot justify a search of his car based on a concern for officer safety. The justification of the search diminishes even more in light of the fact that the officers released Parish after the search. A more prudent course of action for the officers would have been to take Parish into custody as a ‘suspect in several shootings’ and then request a search warrant for his car.”
 

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  • sad
    the dissent had it right. Its basically a Terry stop and a ridiculous overextension of the reasoning behind them. Bill of socalled rights out the door, yet again!
  • Law
    This is simply a case that tells cops that their badge is a license to break the law and that they are above the law!

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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