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. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

ADVERTISEMENT