Tyler R. Browder v. State of Indiana - 4/26/17

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Thursday  April 27, 2017 
1:00 PM  EST

1 p.m. 49A04-1608-CR-01857. Cathedral High School. This case arises out of a traffic stop made just before midnight on November 11, 2014, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Tyler Browder (“Browder”) was driving from his apartment complex to a fast-food restaurant in a car with a license plate that was registered to a different vehicle. An Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer, Sgt. Brady Ball (“Officer Ball”), driving behind Browder ran the license plate and found it did not match the vehicle. Officer Ball then pulled Browder over into a nearby gas station because he suspected the vehicle might be stolen. At that time, Officer Ball turned on his audio recording device and the rest of the stop and arrest were recorded.

During the stop, Browder claimed that he and his wife had just purchased this vehicle and he thought they had thirty days to use the transferred plate from their previous vehicle. The Officer Ball explained that the statute required Browder have the title or bill of sale in the vehicle. Browder stated that the paperwork was at his home with his wife and indicated that he did not have a paper registration for the vehicle either.

The officer returned to his patrol car and ran Browder’s driver’s license and criminal history against BMV and police records. The IMPD officer found that the vehicle was not registered to Browder and discovered that Browder had been a suspect in a prior auto theft. After learning this information about fifteen minutes into the stop, the officer asked Browder to step out of the vehicle in order to question him further about the vehicle’s ownership and his criminal history.

During this conversation, Officer Ball asked Browder if there was any identifying paperwork left in the vehicle from the previous owner. He also asked Browder if anything illegal was in the vehicle. Seventeen minutes into the stop, Browder stated there was nothing illegal in the vehicle and told Officer Ball that he could “check it.” There was further discussion between the two, and Officer Ball advised Browder of his right to refuse a search. Browder stated he had “nothing to hide” and that the officer could search the vehicle.

In the vehicle, the officer found a marijuana pipe under an insert in the center console. The officer then handcuffed Browder and placed him in the patrol car. Browder admitted that he smokes marijuana but denied ownership of the pipe and knowledge that it was in the vehicle. Browder was charged with possession of paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and operating a vehicle on a transferred plate for more than thirty-one days, a Class C infraction.

The infraction was later dismissed by the State. The Marion Superior Court conducted a three-part bench trial on March 7, April 26, and July 20, 2016, where Browder was found guilty of possession of paraphernalia. During the trial, Browder objected to the admission of the pipe found during the stop.

Browder appeals the trial court’s decision to admit the evidence from the vehicle search, arguing that the search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Specifically, Browder argues that the extension of the stop for a traffic infraction was unreasonable. Browder also argues that his consent to search was not voluntary and, therefore, did not give the officer the authority to search the vehicle. The State responds that the officer did have reasonable suspicion to further investigate based on the nature of the traffic infraction. Thus, the State contends that there are no constitutional violations and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence.

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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.