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Drunken driving conviction affirmed; tipster’s observations reasonable cause

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s conviction for Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated Thursday, though one panelist wrote the court went deeper into the analysis of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment claim than it needed to do.

In Brian Russell v. State of Indiana, 46A03-1212-CR-544, the defendant flashed his headlights at a motorist ahead of him on U.S. 421 between Valparaiso and North Judson, and the motorist pulled over. Russell pulled alongside and asked the motorist how to get to another road.

Russell told the motorist he’d been drinking, but the other driver agreed to lead him to his destination. En route, the other motorist called police and arranged to have them positioned at a gas station at the crossroads. Russell was arrested there.

The majority opinion held that the tip, the motorist’s observations and those of the deputy were probable cause. “Because Russell’s rights under the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 were not violated, the trial court acted within its discretion in admitting evidence obtained as a result of Deputy Hahn’s investigatory stop of Russell’s vehicle,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Melissa May.

Judge Mark Bailey concurred in a separate opinion.

“The majority rightly concludes that Russell has waived any argument under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but then performs that analysis itself, waiver notwithstanding,” Mathias wrote. “Under these circumstances, I would conclude that Russell’s Fourth Amendment contention is waived without moving on to address the issue further.”

 

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  4. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

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