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High court defines 'briefly'

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In two cases involving a statutory defense to possession or dealing of drugs within 1,000 feet of a school, the Indiana Supreme Court defined the term "briefly" and ruled on whether the defendants were briefly near schools when they committed their crimes.

The high court granted transfer to Reynaldo A. Griffin v. State of Indiana, No. 71S03-0907-CR-333, and Stephan M. Gallagher v. State of Indiana, No. 15S04-0909-CR-405, to address the meaning and application of the statutory term "briefly." Reynaldo Griffin was convicted of Class B felony possession of cocaine with 1,000 feet of school property. Stephan Gallagher was convicted of Class A felony dealing in a schedule II controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property.

Griffin was stopped around 2 a.m. June 25, 2006, by police while he was pushing a moped along a street adjacent to school property because the officer thought the moped could be stolen. The officer estimated Griffin had been walking by the school for nearly five minutes when he stopped him. The officer found cocaine under the moped.

Gallagher met with a law enforcement agent Nov. 29, 2005, at an arranged meeting site behind a pharmacy that was near a school to sell pills. The meeting happened in the middle of the night and he was near the school for approximately 20 minutes.

Both Griffin and Gallagher asserted the statutory defense for their respective charges that their sentences shouldn't be enhanced because they were only briefly within 1,000 feet of the schools and no children were around at the time of the crimes. Gallagher also argued he was near the school at the request of the law enforcement agent.

In Griffin, the justices decided "briefly" implies a relative comparison and isn't the mere abstract passage of a discrete period of time. When a defendant's presence in the proscribed area is primarily for a purpose other than the illegal activity, the risk to children is smaller and briefly could encompass a greater duration of time, wrote Justice Brent Dickson. But when the defendant is in the area to engage in drug activity, especially if the activity is visible to children, even a relatively short intrusion in the area would be more than brief and shouldn't excuse the defendant from the enhancement.

"We therefore understand 'briefly,' as used in the statutory enhancement defense, to mean a period of time no longer than reasonably necessary for a defendant's intrusion into the proscribed zone principally for conduct unrelated to unlawful drug activities, provided that the defendant's activities related to the charged offense are not visible," wrote the justice.

The high court overturned Griffin's Class B felony conviction because the state didn't prove his presence within 1,000 feet of the school lasted longer than reasonably necessary to push the moped down the street, nor did the state prove there were any children present. The justices remanded for the trial court to impose the conviction and sentence as Class D felony possession of cocaine.

But the justices upheld Gallagher's conviction because he was behind the pharmacy near the school to sell drugs, even if no children were present. They also rejected Gallagher's argument that the state failed to rebut the statutory defense applicable to his charge that he went behind the pharmacy at the request of a law enforcement agent. The evidence was inconsistent as to who selected the location, and the Supreme Court declined to reweigh the evidence. The high court also affirmed Gallagher's sentence.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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