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Police following drug package wire into home unconstitutional, COA rules

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Police violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure when they used a parcel wire to track the opening of a shipment of marijuana in an Indianapolis man’s home, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

There were no exigent circumstances excepting the warrant requirement, the panel ruled, upholding the Marion Superior Court’s grant of a motion to suppress evidence. The state appealed that ruling, and the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed in State of Indiana v. Gregory Lagrone, 49A05-1203-CR-135.

Lagrone was charged with Class D felony counts of dealing marijuana and possession of marijuana after police intercepted a package of marijuana shipped to a hotel in northwest Indianapolis, placed a GPS device and a “parcel wire” into the package, and called Lagrone to pick it up.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers followed Lagrone after he picked up the package and waited for a signal from the parcel wire that would be triggered when the package was opened and exposed to light.

When police received a signal the package was open, they knocked on the door and announced themselves as police, but no one answered. They forcibly entered the home, secured it and then requested and obtained a warrant. The trial court granted Lagrone’s motion to suppress evidence recovered from the search.

“We conclude that the warrantless use of the parcel wire to monitor the package within Lagrone’s house violated the Fourth Amendment,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the panel. “Due to that violation … the State cannot justify its warrantless intrusion into Lagrone’s home under the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment.”

The ruling did not place restrictions on the use of GPS systems and parcel wires as investigatory tools, however.

“In sum, we conclude that the installation of the GPS device and the parcel wire into the package Lagrone picked up from the hotel did not violate the Fourth Amendment because any privacy interest Lagrone had in the package was lost when UPS opened the package,” Najam wrote. “Nor did the police monitoring of the GPS device to track the package en route to Lagrone’s home violate the Fourth Amendment, because officers also tracked Lagrone on the highway visually. Moreover, the evidence presented does not show that the GPS monitoring continued after Lagrone carried the package into his home.

“But the police then monitored the package without a warrant via the parcel wire after the package was inside Lagrone’s home. The information obtained from that device, namely, that the package had been opened, could not have been observed from outside the home. As such, the receipt of that information via the parcel wire without a warrant violated Lagrone’s Fourth Amendment rights.”






 

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

  2. Being dedicated to a genre keeps it alive until the masses catch up to the "trend." Kent and Bill are keepin' it LIVE!! Thank you gentlemen..you know your JAZZ.

  3. Hemp has very little THC which is needed to kill cancer cells! Growing cannabis plants for THC inside a hemp field will not work...where is the fear? From not really knowing about Cannabis and Hemp or just not listening to the people teaching you through testimonies and packets of info over the last few years! Wake up Hoosier law makers!

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