ILNews

Judges reverse denial of motion to suppress after car stopped for window tint

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The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded on interlocutory appeal that an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer lacked reasonable suspicion when he stopped a man’s car due to the tint on his rear window because the evidence shows the window tint didn’t justify the stop.

Officer Keith Minch stopped Erving Sanders’ Suburban around 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2011, based on the tint of the rear window. He believed it was too dark and warranted an infraction. When speaking to Sanders, he smelled marijuana and searched Sanders. He found a substance on Sanders which Sanders admitted was cocaine.

Sanders was charged with Class D felony possession of cocaine, but he sought to suppress the evidence. Evidence produced during the hearings on his motion showed that the front windshield and side windows weren’t tinted and the rear window and side panels had some tint. A photograph showed that it was possible to see the outline of the front window, top of the steering wheel and a portion of a wiper blade through the rear window.

When asked about the window tinting and whether he could see through it, Minch either answered he didn’t know or couldn’t determine from the photo. Sanders had an expert testify that the rear window was tinted at 38 percent, which is higher than the 30 percent of light transmittance required under law.

Marion Superior Judge Jose Salinas acknowledged that the window tint was within the prescribed limits of the law but denied the motion to suppress based on a good-faith intent on Minch’s part at the time of the stop.

In Erving Sanders v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1205-CR-361, Sanders argued that the judge’s position means that an officer is never wrong and a stop would always be upheld.

“Based upon the evidence presented at the suppression hearings, including the photographs of the Suburban which were taken one hour after the stop and depict the window tinting, we cannot say that there was an objectively justifiable reason for the stop of the vehicle,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote. “Accordingly, under the totality of the circumstances Officer Minch lacked reasonable suspicion to stop Sanders for investigatory purposes at the time he observed Sanders’s vehicle. The trial court erred in denying Sanders’s motion to suppress.”

 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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