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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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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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