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Judges affirm elevated drug convictions

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The state presented sufficient evidence to prove a defendant delivered and possessed methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex, so the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed elevating his convictions to a higher felony level.

In Douglas Covey v. State of Indiana, No. 30A01-0906-CR-311, Douglas Covey appealed his convictions of dealing in methamphetamine as a Class A felony, possession of methamphetamine as a Class B felony, possession of methamphetamine as a Class B felony,  possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of paraphernalia a Class A misdemeanor.

Covey sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. During a second scheduled buy at the CI’s apartment, Covey saw a detective outside and tried to leave before getting into the apartment. Police stopped him and found marijuana and a pipe on him; they searched the area by the apartment and found a tin outside of the apartment door that contained two baggies of methamphetamine.

Covey argued that the state didn’t prove the place where he dealt or possessed marijuana was a “family housing complex” under Indiana criminal statute. The statute explains it could be a series of buildings operated as an apartment complex. Covey claimed defining an apartment complex relied on lease terms, but his argument is misplaced for the criminal statute, the appellate judges concluded. Judge Patricia Riley wrote that the fact that a hotel or motel would qualify as a family housing complex makes it clear the legislature wasn’t focused on the length of lease terms to define “family housing complex.”

The confidential informant testified that her apartment was located in “Greenfield Village Apartments” in which the name alone supports an inference that the place operated as an apartment complex, the judge continued.

The Court of Appeals also found it was up to Covey to place mitigating factors at issue, such as that there were no children around at the time, and that he was briefly within 1,000 feet of the complex, which would reduce his culpability. He failed to do so. The trial court didn’t commit fundamental error by not instructing the jury on the mitigating factors of Indiana Code Section 35-48-4-16(b) because Covey had the burden to bring up those factors to the jury.

The judges affirmed the admission of the methamphetamine found in the tin outside the apartment door.
 

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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