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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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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