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Judge believes caselaw has ‘unintended consequences’ for residents, law enforcement

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In a divided opinion in which the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s resisting law enforcement finding and probation revocation, Judge Paul Mathias worried that relying on certain caselaw would have “unintended consequences” for Hoosiers and police officers.

Donald Murdock was on probation when a police officer saw him run outside of a vacant apartment. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer Vincent Stewart was responding to a call regarding a person fleeing from another officer. Stewart chased Murdock, identified himself as an officer and ordered him to stop. Murdock shoved Stewart; Stewart was able to take him into custody after pepper spraying Murdock.

The trial court ordered Murdock serve 3 ½ years of his previously suspended sentence after finding he violated his probation by committing Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.

Murdock does not dispute that he fled from Stewart after being told to stop but claimed that the trial court erred in finding that he committed Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement because Stewart allegedly lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him.

In Donald Murdock v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1306-CR-565, Judges Cale Bradford and Rudolph Pyle III affirmed, citing a long line of cases, starting with Corbin v. State, 568 N.E.2d 1064, 1065 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991), that have held that even if a police officer does not have reasonable suspicion to stop a defendant, the defendant has no right to flee when the officer orders him to stop.

Bradford also wrote in a footnote, “Murdock relies on a recent decision from this court to support his argument that he had a right to flee from an illegal detention, Gaddie v. State, 991 N.E.2d 137, 141 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), trans. granted, opinion vacated, 999 N.E.2d 417 (Ind. 2012). Gaddie, however, has been vacated by order of the Indiana Supreme Court. Unless and until the Indiana Supreme Court determines that one has the right to flee from an unlawful police request to stop, we shall follow the myriad Indiana cases holding that one has no such right.”

Judge Paul Mathias dissented, citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), and Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 363 (Ind. 2005).

Corbin and its progeny provide Hoosiers with some stark choices. If an otherwise law-abiding citizen chooses to walk on, rather than engage in a conversation offered by a law enforcement officer, is that conduct resisting law enforcement? If it is not, then why shouldn’t the law and common sense demand that the officer have the articulable facts and reasonable suspicion called for in Terry before that conduct becomes the crime of resisting law enforcement? Do we as a society want to empower law enforcement to be able to stop anyone, at any time, without articulable facts that lead an officer to reasonable suspicion that criminal activity may be afoot? I hope not,” he wrote.

“If otherwise law-abiding citizens cannot legally refuse to engage with a law enforcement officer, then there is no such thing as a consensual encounter between law enforcement officers and citizens. Every such encounter would be a seizure under the law and would require the administration of a Miranda advisement. Is that that kind of society we want to live in? Does law enforcement want to lose the helpful tool of consensual encounters with citizens? I hope not.”

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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