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Judges: Officers lacked reasonable suspicion to stop and detain man

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Because a man’s detention following a traffic stop wasn’t supported by reasonable suspicion, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his drug conviction today.

Robert Segar believed the trial court abused its discretion by admitting marijuana into evidence that police found on him after an investigatory stop and detention. Police were responding to an anonymous tip that a burglary was in progress and the suspect was a white male in a dark coat or dark shirt. Officer Carl Grigsby saw Segar walking in the middle of the street near where the alleged robbery was happening and stopped him because he fit the description given by the caller.

Segar was cooperative, but placed in handcuffs. Police found out he was wanted for questioning about some burglaries, but he had no active warrants. Another officer conducted a pat-down search before placing him in the police car to take him to the station for questioning on those other robberies. That’s when police found a baggie that was later determined to contain marijuana.

Segar was charged and convicted of Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana over his objections to the admission of the drugs.

After finding that Segar did in fact make a timely objection to the admission of the marijuana, the Court of Appeals concluded in Robert Segar v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1003-CR-269, that the drug shouldn’t have been admitted into evidence. Police were responding to an anonymous tip and were unable to get any more information from the tipster beyond that there was a burglary in progress and the alleged burglar was white and wearing a dark top. The tipster hung up before giving a name.

The officers had little information on which to base a particularized suspicion of Segar, wrote Judge Margret Robb, and there was no way to test the reliability of the information provided by the tipster.

“If the tipster’s assertion of a burglary in progress had been corroborated, there would have been some reason to believe the tipster had inside knowledge potentially linking Segar to the illegality. However, there is nothing in the record to indicate whether a burglary actually happened at 3179 Normandy, let alone whether police verified the report before stopping Segar,” she wrote.

Segar’s actions before and during the stop weren’t suspicious. In addition, the reasonableness of official suspicion must be measured by what officers knew before, not after, conducting an investigatory stop. There was no indication that officers made a connection before Segar was stopped between the present reported burglary and whatever facts warranted his questioning regarding the previous burglaries, wrote Judge Robb.

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  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.

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