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Public intoxication conviction tossed for lack of proof of endangerment

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A man convicted of public intoxication after a police officer found him near the site where his car had come to a stop between the road and a drainage ditch was improperly convicted, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Monday.

David Sesay was convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication in Marion Superior Court, but an appeals panel reversed, concluding that the state “failed to prove Sesay engaged in any conduct beyond intoxication that endangered his life.”

A little more than a year ago, an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officer arrested Sesay after being dispatched to the southwest side of the city. The officer found Sesay shortly after 3 a.m. standing near the vehicle a few feet out of the roadway, covered in mud with alcohol on his breath and red or glassy bloodshot eyes. Sesay said his girlfriend had been driving the car, and she arrived on the scene a few minutes later.

But Sesay said the state failed to meet its burden that he endangered himself as is required under I.C. 7.1-5-1-3(a). The P.I. statute requires that a person endanger his or another person’s life; breaches the peace or is in imminent danger of breaching the peace; or harasses, annoys or alarms another person.

Sesay was convicted after a bench trial before Judge Linda Brown in which the officer was the sole witness.  Brown noted Sesay was staggering near a road, had vomited on himself and needed the officer’s assistance to be seated. “And so I think it can be inferred that he was endangering his life,” Brown said.

“Although there is no question that Sesay was in a public place and that he was intoxicated, the State failed to prove that he engaged in any additional conduct that endangered his life,” Judge Margret Rob wrote for the majority  joined by Judge Patricia Riley in David Sesay v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1305-CR-434. “Sesay’s conviction is, therefore, reversed.”

Judge Cale Bradford concurred with a separate opinion. He would reverse, but he wrote “to clarify that while I believe that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to show that Sesay was endangered at the time of his arrest, I believe that Indiana Code section 7.1-5-1-3 requires a showing that the endangerment resulted from an affirmative act by Sesay and, in the instant matter, the evidence presented below was insufficient to make such a showing.”

 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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