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Judges affirm man’s drug conviction

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A man stopped by police while driving through Vigo County for unsafe lane movement – and later convicted of Class A felony dealing in cocaine – couldn’t convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his conviction should be overturned.

Terre Haute Police Officer Brent Long pulled over Walter Smith Jr.’s U-Haul on I-70 on June 17, 2011, and asked for assistance. Officers Matthew Carden and Philip Ralston came about two minutes later and saw Long writing a warning to Smith. Ralston took over completing the warning while Long took his K-9 dog Shadow around the truck. Shadow focused in on one part of the truck, leading Long to obtain a search warrant through a telephonic hearing.

The officers cut open the padlock on the U-Haul and found two brick-like packages that contained more nearly 2,000 grams of cocaine.

Smith sought a speedy trial, and his trial was set for Sept. 27, 2011. He filed a motion to suppress evidence and sought to strike witnesses due to the state’s belated discovery compliance. Long was killed a month after the traffic stop, but Ralston and Carden testified. Just before his trial was set to begin, Smith asked for more time because he was not ready for trial. He then sought discharge pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(B) at a hearing two days after his trial was set to begin; it was denied. Smith was convicted of the felony cocaine dealing charge.

In Walter E. Smith, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 84A04-1112-CR-637, Smith argued the trial court committed reversible error when it refused his tendered jury instruction regarding a defendant’s innocence; he was entitled to a discharge under Criminal Rule 4(B); and the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted evidence from the traffic stop.

Citing Robey v. State, 454 N.E.2d 1221 (Ind. 1983) and Simpson v. State, 915 N.E.2d 511 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), the judges held that the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in refusing to use Smith’s tendered jury instruction because the substance of his instruction was covered by instructions given by the court.

The delay in bringing Smith to trial was chargeable to Smith and the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in admitting the cocaine at trial because it was seized pursuant to a valid search warrant, the COA ruled. Smith didn’t offer any evidence to suggest the traffic stop or its length was unreasonable, or that the search warrant wasn’t supported by probable cause.
 

 

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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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