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Suspect’s disheveled appearance, not GPS, led to drug discovery

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A suspect’s attempt to pull up his unbuckled and falling pants as he stepped from his car negated any taint on the evidence caused by local law enforcement placing a GPS on his vehicle.  

Dorian Gray Jackson was convicted for possession of a narcotic drug with the intent to deliver as a Class A felony, two counts of dealing in a narcotic drug as Class B felonies, and possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor. On appeal he challenged the admission of the evidence obtained at the traffic stop. He argued the baggies of heroin and marijuana constituted fruit of the poisonous tree because officers violated his Fourth Amendment rights by installing and monitoring a GPS on his car without a warrant.

The state countered that evidence found was the result of a valid arrest and not because of the GPS. Even without the monitoring equipment, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department knew Jackson had conducted multiple heroin transactions and, once the car was pulled over, the detective recognized Jackson as the suspect in a drug investigation.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed. In Dorian Gray Jackson v. State of Indiana, 20A05-1210-CR-572, the court affirmed Jackson’s convictions, noting that even if the sheriff relied on the GPS to illegally pinpoint Jackson’s location, that would not require exclusion of the evidence obtained at the traffic stop.

Instead, the intervening circumstances supported the state’s assertion that the drugs were discovered without the help of the GPS, the Court of Appeals stated. The sheriff’s detective initiated the traffic stop after Jackson turned his car onto an adjoining street without signaling 200 feet prior to the maneuver. Recognizing Jackson as the driver, the detective noticed the suspect’s belt was undone and his pants were hanging down and then became worried about a hidden weapon or contraband when the officer saw Jackson attempt to pull up his pants as he exited the car.  

“We conclude that the intervening circumstances, including the traffic infraction, the discovery of Jackson as the driver whom the police had probable cause to arrest, and the position of Jackson’s pants, were sufficient to dissipate any taint caused by the illegal reliance on the GPS device,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the court.
 

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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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