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Justices: Search of vehicle violated woman’s constitutional rights

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The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday reversed the admittance of statements a woman made to police after a concerned citizen set up a sting operation attempting to catch an alleged drug dealer. The justices held that the warrantless seizure of Danielle Kelly’s person and vehicle violated her constitutional rights.

Kelly rode with her cousin Lamont Day to the home of Carolyn Goodwin. Goodwin had contacted police and told them she arranged to purchase cocaine from a man who she said was selling drugs to her friends at Fortville bars. Goodwin had never been a confidential informant and she did not provide the man’s name or physical description of him or his car, but that man turned out to be Day. Goodwin never mentioned Kelly.

When the two arrived at Goodwin’s home, police ordered Day and Kelly out of the car. Police questioned Kelly who said she knew about the cocaine in the car. Then police read her the Miranda warning, and Kelly again said she knew about the drug. She was charged with two Class A felonies: dealing in and possession of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a public park or youth program center.

On interlocutory appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the admittance of the cocaine found in the search of the vehicle and Kelly’s statements to police after she received the Miranda warning.

In Danielle Kelly v. State of Indiana, 30S01-1303-CR-220, the justices held that the circumstances of the case constitute an arrest that must be supported by probable cause. The police came to Goodwin’s house based on her attempted sting operation, but they never corroborated the claim that Day had cocaine and he intended to sell it. Plus, Goodwin never told police anything about Kelly.

The high court also held that the plurality opinion in Missouri v. Siebert, 542 U.S. 600, 617 (2004), prohibits the admission of Kelly’s statements to Fortville Police Chief Benjamin Kiphart. The questioning of Kelly and her statements to police prior to being read her Miranda rights and the responses of Kiphart based on her statements led the justices to believe the references to Kelly’s pre-warning admission “inevitably diluted the potency of the Miranda warning such that it was powerless to cure the initial failure to warn, even if that failure was a product of a good-faith mistake,” Justice Mark Massa wrote.

“Although we have no knowledge of, and thus can express no opinion regarding, Chief Kiphart’s motives, we believe our jurisprudence, as well as that of our colleagues, makes it clear that Miranda requires a ‘warn-first practice,’” Massa continued.

He pointed out that officers may still, under Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 318 (1985), cure a good-faith mistake by administering a proper warning before proceeding with further questioning. But, as in this case, that cure was impossible when it was followed by explicit references to a pre-warning incriminating statement.

 

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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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