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Justices rule officer didn't search car to find gun

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The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld a man’s firearm conviction, finding the police officer who found a handgun in the man’s car during a traffic stop wasn’t searching the car when he saw the gun.

Cedric Lewis appealed his conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and his 12-year sentence. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Romeo Jonson pulled Lewis’ car over after Lewis changed lanes without signaling. Lewis’ license had been suspended, so Jonson thought the car would be towed. He stuck his head in the car through the open driver’s side door to tell the passenger to get out of the car when he saw a handgun wedged between the driver’s seat and the center console.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed, but in Cedric Lewis v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-1010-CR-619, the justices agreed with the lower court’s conviction of Lewis. In the five-page opinion, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard wrote that Jonson’s discovery of the gun didn’t constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Caselaw has held that a search involves an exploratory investigation and opening or looking into areas. There is no search when police look into cars during traffic stops, he wrote. Also, discovering items in plain view is not a search.

Jonson didn’t open any compartments, move any objects, or pull back anything to see the gun, so the officer wasn’t searching the car when he saw the gun.

The justices also upheld Lewis’ sentence, denying the defendant’s request to shorten his sentence.
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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