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Justices to hear cheek swab, blood draw cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear three arguments Thursday, including a case that challenges whether reasonable suspicion alone is sufficient for law enforcement to obtain DNA from a cheek swab.

Justices will hold arguments in Arturo Garcia-Torres v. State of Indiana, No. 64S03-0912-CR-550, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Arturo Garcia-Torres' convictions of rape and burglary and the denial of his motion to suppress DNA evidence from a cheek swab. The appellate court held taking the cheek swab required reasonable suspicion and isn't subject to the advice-of-counsel requirements in Pirtle v. State, 263 Ind. 323 N.E.2d 634 (1975).

Judge Terry Crone dissented because he believed that taking the swab from a custodial suspect requires probable cause under the Fourth Amendment and is subject to the advice-of-counsel requirements of Pirtle. Arguments begin at 9:45 a.m. in the Supreme Court courtroom.

At 10:30 a.m., the high court will hear Roger Brown v. State of Indiana, No. 12S02-0912-CR-560, in which the Court of Appeals ruled the results of Roger Brown's blood-alcohol test shouldn't have been admitted because it was performed by a certified lab technician. The appellate judges held certified lab techs aren't "certified phlebotomists" or otherwise someone trained in getting bodily substance samples under Indiana Code Section 9-30-6-6(j). Roger Brown challenged the admittance of two tests used to prove his intoxication and support his convictions of drunk driving. The appellate court upheld his convictions anyway because it believed the state was able to prove he was intoxicated and his driving caused the victims' injuries.

The justices will also hear Sheehan Construction Co. Inc. v. Continental Casualty Co., No. 49A02-0805-CV-420, at 9 a.m. That case involves a dispute over what, if any, coverage was provided by commercial general liability insurance policies after allegedly faulty workmanship was done by Sheehan's subcontractor. The Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurers and insurance broker.

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