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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. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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