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No constitutional violations in stopping car with interim dealer plate

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Finding an Indianapolis police officer had reasonable suspicion to conduct an investigatory stop of a car with an interim dealer plate, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the driver’s conviction of Class C felony operating a motor vehicle after his driving privileges had been forfeited for life.

In Carl Croom v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1304-CR-144, Carl Croom argued that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution that his interim dealer license plate was unregistered.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Bryan Zotz stopped Croom’s vehicle under the mistaken belief that the license plate was expired. About two months before the stop, the state linked newly issued interim dealer plates to the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. It placed the new interim dealer plates in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles system and allowed road officers to have access to the information. The plate on Croom’s car was an old plate, and it did not show up as on file with the BMV when the officer ran it while sitting behind Croom’s vehicle at a traffic light. That’s when Zotz initiated the traffic stop, leading to the discovery that Croom was driving without a valid license.

But the plate was valid; dealers had a stockpile of the old version and were allowed to issue the old plates to buyers.
 
The Indiana Court of Appeals found the stop by Zotz did not violate the U.S. or Indiana constitutions.
 
“The only way for Officer Zotz to determine whether Croom was compliant with the law was to initiate a traffic stop. Because Officer Zotz believed that an interim dealer license plate would only be valid if it was in the newly searchable system, the lack of registration information established reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. The Supreme Court’s decision in Sanders (v. State, 989 N.E.2d 332, 336 (Ind. 2013)) compels us to find that Officer Zotz’s good-faith reasonable belief that a violation occurred was sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion under the Fourth Amendment,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

“Balancing the high degree of concern, suspicion, or knowledge that a violation occurred and the needs of law enforcement against the low degree of intrusion, we conclude that Officer Zotz had reasonable suspicion under Article 1, Section 11. Therefore, we affirm the trial court’s decision to admit the evidence obtained from the traffic stop,” the court held.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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