ILNews

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

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

ADVERTISEMENT