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Justices vacate transfer in pot bust case heard in Merrillville

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A divided appellate court ruling upholding a marijuana conviction resulting from a tip that led to a traffic stop will stand after the Indiana Supreme Court vacated transfer.

Four of five justices chose Wednesday to vacate transfer in Phillip T. Billingsley v. State of Indiana, 02S05-1303-CR-160. Justice Robert Rucker dissented from the order vacating transfer and would reverse the trial court.

Billingsley was convicted of Class D felony possession of marijuana after an Allen County bench trial. Fort Wayne police found the pot in Billingsley’s vehicle parked at a VFW post after receiving a tip from a 911 caller. Billingsley appealed, claiming that an officer pulled a gun on him as he sat in the vehicle and he was then placed under arrest. He challenged whether the officer had a reasonable suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop.

A divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Billingsley’s conviction, noting the caller claimed to have been a victim of Billingsley’s criminal activity and a witness to ongoing criminal activity. But Judge James Kirsch argued that nothing known to police or the court allowed for a determination of the veracity of the information the caller provided and that the information was insufficient to satisfy state and federal court standards for investigatory stops.

Oral arguments were heard by about 400 people May 9 at Merrillville High School in an event organized by the Lake County Bar Association.

“Thereafter, we discussed the case in more detail at our weekly conference. After again considering the points raised in the parties’ briefs and the points made by the attorneys at the oral argument in Lake County, it is the view of a majority of the justices that the Court should not assume jurisdiction over this appeal, and that the Court of Appeals opinion be the final decision in this case,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the order.

 

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  1. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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