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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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  1. 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.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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