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Man’s claims that protective sweep, search are unconstitutional fail

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A protective sweep and subsequent search of a house following the issuance of a search warrant were reasonable under the federal and state constitutions, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The defendant argued that the scope of the sweep – which led to the discovery of drugs and paraphernalia – was impermissibly broad.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Department detectives went to Floyd Weddle’s home to serve a search warrant for theft and false informing. They also learned that Weddle and Vicki Hall were manufacturing and dealing in methamphetamine. The cars of Weddle and Hall were parked outside the home. When police knocked, they saw the blinds move in the home and heard movement in the house. They entered and saw Weddle and immediately placed him in custody.

The officers heard movement in the back of the house. Hall was in a bedroom and came out. Weddle then said he wasn’t sure if anyone else was in the house, so one sergeant performed a brief protective sweep through open doors and some rooms in the house. They found Lindsay Burton hiding behind a blanket in a bedroom. While searching, police smelled meth and saw a marijuana plant. Weddle refused to allow officers to search the rest of the house, so a search warrant was obtained, which led to more drug evidence. Weddle was charged with and convicted of several drug offenses.  

In Floyd Weddle v. State of Indiana, 73A01-1209-CR-452, Weddle argued the protective sweep and warrantless search of the home was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The appellate judges found the scope of the protective sweep was not excessive under either Constitution.

“We find that the protective sweep of Weddle’s residence was justified because the police officers searched only adjoining rooms from which an attack could immediately occur,” Judge John Baker wrote, pointing to Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325, 334-35 (1990), and Hannibal v. State, 804 N.E.2d 206 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004). “We further find that the protective sweep was permissible because the officers had specific articulable facts that an individual, who could jeopardize their safety, was hiding in the back of the house.”

Regarding the Indiana constitutional claims, the judges found the circumstances supplied the officers with a high degree of concern that someone else could be hiding in the house and attack them. As such, the protective sweep and subsequent search following the issuance of the search warrant were reasonable.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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