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Man can't challenge motion after guilty plea

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A defendant who pleaded guilty to a drug charge can no longer challenge the trial court denial of his pretrial motion to suppress, affirmed the Indiana Court of Appeals today.

Tommy D. Alvey challenged the trial court order denying his pretrial motion to suppress following a "conditional guilty plea" in which he and the state agreed he had reserved his right to appeal the court's order.

Alvey was arrested on various drug charges and carrying a handgun without a license, and he agreed to plead guilty to dealing methamphetamine and carrying a handgun without a license. Alvey appealed the trial court denial of his pretrial motion to suppress evidence after the court sentenced him.

In Tommy D. Alvey v. State of Indiana, No. 82A01-0804-CR-164, the appellate court examined previous rulings by the Court of Appeals on the issue of whether a defendant can challenge a pretrial motion after pleading guilty. The appellate court relied heavily on the Indiana Supreme Court's Nov. 12 opinion in Norris v. State, No. 43S03-0807-CR-379, to rule that an evidentiary challenge after pleading guilty isn't permissible, wrote Judge Edward Najam.

On appeal, Alvey didn't challenge whether his guilty plea was entered knowingly and voluntarily, or whether the court accepted his plea over a claim of innocence, which may be a strategic decision by his counsel, wrote the judge.

"Thus, Alvey's plea forecloses his right to challenge the pretrial motion to suppress, and we must affirm the trial court's entry of judgment of conviction against Alvey," wrote Judge Najam.

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