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Good-faith exception not applicable

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An Indiana trial court erred when it denied a defendant's motion to suppress evidence because the good-faith exception doesn't apply in this case, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded today.

In Brea Rice v. State of Indiana, No. 55A04-0902-CR-99, Brea Rice argued the drugs found in her purse after she was arrested on a warrant for receiving stolen property shouldn't be allowed into evidence because the search that led to the warrant wasn't supported by probable cause.

Mooresville Police officers Yarnell and Harris executed a search warrant of the home Rice rented and lived in with Brian Nysewander to find stolen property allegedly stored there. The search didn't turn up any of the missing property, but officers photographed a motorcycle helmet in the garage before leaving. That helmet turned out to be reported stolen, so police filed an affidavit of probable cause to arrest Rice and Nysewander.

Officer Whitley saw Rice at her back door as he drove by and stopped to arrest her because he knew she had a warrant. A search of her purse at the police department turned up two marijuana joints and a small amount of methamphetamine.

Rice was charged with possession of methamphetamine and marijuana. The receiving stolen property charge was later dismissed without prejudice, and Rice filed an interlocutory appeal after the trial court denied her motion to suppress the drug evidence.

The trial court acknowledged the arrest warrant shouldn't haven't been issued but found the police conduct could fall under the good-faith exception. There's no question Whitely acted in good faith in serving the arrest warrant; however, the actions of the officers who originate warrants must also be considered, wrote Judge Margret Robb.

Nothing in the record suggests the affidavit was deliberately misleading or false, but it did fail to show any connection between Rice and the crime of which she was accused, the judge continued.

"If we were to apply the good faith exception in this case and hold it was objectively reasonable for Officer Whitley to rely on a warrant supported by an affidavit wholly lacking probable cause, officers would have no incentive to discover and attest to facts amounting to probable cause in future affidavits, the defendant's right to seek review of the probable cause determination would be empty, and the exclusionary rule would have no meaning," she wrote.

The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter law enforcement from committing constitutional violations, and evidence should only be suppressed if it can be said the officer had knowledge or may properly be charged with the knowledge the search was unconstitutional. Yarnell may be charged with knowledge that an arrest warrant issued on the basis of his affidavit was unconstitutional, and as in Hensley v. State, 778 N.E.2d 484, 489 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), exclusion can therefore have a deterrent effect by ensuring future affidavits contain sufficient information for a judicial officer to determine probable cause, wrote Judge Robb.

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  1. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  2. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  3. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

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