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Teen's Fourth Amendment rights not violated

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Debating in a footnote whether a juvenile's argument that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated was subject to a Terry stop analysis, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided to apply the Terry analysis to his case. The appellate court affirmed his adjudication of committing Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement if committed by an adult.

In the case In re: J.D. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0808-JV-490, J.D. appealed the finding he committed resisting law enforcement after he ran away from police. J.D. was on a front porch of a house with other minors and there were open and empty containers of alcohol on the porch. Police, who came to the house after seeing J.D. and another juvenile head toward it, saw a few empty beer cans sitting near J.D. The police told everyone to sit down and they would be given breath tests. J.D. ran away, struggled with police and had to be tasered before complying.

J.D. argued the juvenile court erred in admitting evidence about what happened that night because it flowed from his seizure, which he claims violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment and the Indiana Constitution.

In analyzing his Fourth Amendment claim, the appellate judges debated whether Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), or State v. Atkins, 834 N.E.2d 1028, 1032 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), which cited Illinois v. Wardlow, 528 U.S. 119 123 120 S.Ct.673, 145 L.Ed.2d 570 (2000), applied to J.D.'s case. Atkins ruled the Terry stop and frisk rule applied only to a brief encounter with a citizen and a police officer on a public street. Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote the Atkins case may have too literally read from Wardlow that that a Terry stop only applies under the stated circumstances of that case: when a citizen encounters a police officer and the encounter happens on a public street.

The judge continued in the footnote that the appellate court need not decide whether it agrees with this aspect of Atkins because J.D. doesn't argue that the Terry analysis doesn't apply in this situation. He just argues that the "reasonable suspicion" element isn't satisfied. As such, the Court of Appeals applied the Terry analysis to J.D.'s case.

The police saw minors sitting on a porch with empty cans of alcohol and even though police didn't see J.D. drink the beer, the fact he was near the empty cans and that he is a minor is sufficient to cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe criminal activity had happened or was about to happen, wrote Judge Friedlander. Considering the totality of the circumstances, there was reasonable suspicion and J.D.'s detention didn't violate Fourth Amendment principles or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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