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High court takes 3 cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court will hear a case in which a dissenting Court of Appeals judge worried that the majority’s finding would head toward a bright-line rule regarding the officer safety exception to the warrant requirement in the context of a car on the side of the road.

In Cedric D. Lewis v. State of Indiana,  No. 49S1010-CR-619, the three judges on the appellate panel each wrote an opinion, with Judges Patricia Riley and James Kirsch concluding that the search of Cedric Lewis’ car violated the state and federal constitutions. Lewis was pulled over, immediately stuck his hands out the window and seemed nervous. He said he had no drugs in the car. As the arresting officer opened the driver’s side door to ask the passenger to get out of the car because it would be towed, the officer saw a gun. Lewis’ attempts to suppress the handgun evidence were denied.

Judge Riley focused her opinion on the officer safety exception for searching a car without a warrant and found the officer’s safety to not be an issue. Judge Kirsch concurred in result with Judge Riley because he felt the record failed to answer important questions regarding officer safety concerns and that the state didn’t satisfy its burden to prove that the search was justified.

Judge Paul Mathias dissented because he thought Judge Riley’s ruling went in the direction of creating a bright-line rule regarding where officers may lawfully position themselves outside of a vehicle without a warrant.

The justices also accepted Alva Curtis v. State of Indiana,  No. 49S02-1010-CR-620, in which the Court of Appeals reversed the denial of Alva Curtis’ motion to dismiss charges against him, because not dismissing the charges was a violation of his due process rights. Curtis has physical and mental limitations and is uneducated. When living with a friend, he attacked a neighbor. He was released from jail nearly a month after the incident and ended up in a long-term, locked facility before being moved to a rehabilitation and nursing facility.

Psychiatric examinations determined Curtis couldn’t understand the proceedings, help his attorney, and would likely not be restored to competency. The trial court denied his motion to dismiss and refused to commit him to the Department of Mental Health and Addictions based on the cost to the state.

The appellate court didn’t fault the trial court for not committing Curtis in order to save money, but that rationale doesn’t support the decision to deny dismissing the charging information. The judges cited State v. Davis, 898 N.E.2d 281, 285 (Ind. 2008) to find Curtis’ due process rights had been violated. The Davis court explained the mere act of holding criminal charges indefinitely over the head of someone who won’t ever be able to prove his innocence is a violation of due process rights, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

In Gibraltar Financial Corp. v. Prestige Equipment Corp., et al., No. 20S03-1010-CV-618, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for Prestige Equipment Corp. and other defendants on Gibraltar’s complaint of conversion, replevin, and a money judgment.

Gibraltar argued that a lease entered into between Key Corporate Capital Inc. and Vitco Industries Inc., to which Gibraltar is a secured creditor, was actually a disguised sale subject to an unofficial security interest. The judges found after applying the relevant Colorado statute and examining the underlying circumstances of the transaction that the lease was just a lease.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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