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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. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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