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7th Circuit declines to overturn ruling on excessive force

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A man who entered a conditional plea on drug charges couldn’t convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday that it should overturn a ruling that the use of excessive force during an arrest is not a basis for suppressing evidence.

In United States of America v. Johnnie C. Collins, 12-3317, Johnnie Collins appealed the denial of his motion to suppress evidence found after he fled from police in his car and on foot. While he was running from the officers, Collins threw a bag to the ground. He would not cooperate with officers, so they had to kick and douse him with pepper spray. It wasn’t until officers used a Taser twice on Collins that they were able to place him in handcuffs.

The bag Collins threw away had crack and powder cocaine in it. Officers also found a wad of cash in his pocket. He was charged with possession of crack and powder cocaine with intent to distribute, and he later entered a conditional plea on the charges. In denying his motion to suppress, the District Court noted that the use of excessive force in making an arrest can’t be remedied by suppression of evidence, and even if that was an available remedy, Collins wouldn’t be entitled to relief because he threw the drugs away before any force was applied.

Collins argued that the 7th Circuit should overturn United States v. Watson, 558 F.3d 702, 705 (7th Cir. 2009), arguing the District Court’s reasoning was flawed with regard to when the excessive force began. He claimed it started when police started chasing him on foot.

“Collins had not yet been seized at the point when he abandoned his drugs by tossing the bag into the bushes. No seizure occurs until force is applied or the suspect submits to the officer, and the moment of seizure does not relate back to an initial show of authority that was ignored,” the judges wrote in the per curiam decision.

“Moreover, no opinion cited by Collins holds that the use of excessive force in conducting search or seizure requires suppression of the evidence seized,” the opinion states. “Collins has nothing new to say on the subject; he simply disagrees with how the case was decided, but that is not a sound reason for overturning the decision.”

 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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