ILNews

Court rules checkpoint unconstitutional

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Indiana police officers are not allowed to target specific people when setting up roadblocks and checkpoints, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals. The court overturned a trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress evidence from two police roadblocks created after breaking up a party.

In Kenneth Scott King v. State of Indiana, No. 58A01-0704-CR-159, King was at a party to which the police were called. After breaking up the party, police set up two checkpoints to search for impaired drivers - one on private property where the party was and one at the end of the driveway on the public street. All vehicles were required to drive through these two points in order to leave the premises.

An officer believed King, who was slowly driving his car, was trying to avoid the checkpoints and stopped him. After administering a portable breath test, King was charged with misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher.

King filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained during the checkpoint stop, which the trial court denied.

The Court of Appeals ruled the checkpoints were unconstitutional under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The appellate court applied the standard derived from State v. Gerschoffer, 763 N.E.2d 960 (Ind. 2002) to determine whether the roadblocks were constitutionally allowed.

The court found the state failed to provide evidence in support of five out of six of the factors that weigh on the reasonableness of a checkpoint. The state failed to meet its burden to prove the checkpoints were constitutional.

Even by applying federal standards for checkpoints as found in Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 361 (Ind. 2005), the state still fails to prove the checkpoints were constitutional.
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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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