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Transfer granted to traffic-stop cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer to three cases dealing with traffic stops.

In Thomas A. Armfield v. State of Indiana, No. 29A02-0802-CR-101, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thomas Armfield's conviction of operating a vehicle after a lifetime suspension, ruling the trial court didn't err in admitting evidence from a traffic stop during Armfield's trial. The police officer made the stop of Armfield's car based on a random license plate check revealing Armfield was the owner. Previous caselaw has ruled that knowledge that a registered owner of a car who has a suspended license is enough to constitute reasonable suspicion for an officer to initiate a traffic stop.

In Damen Holly v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0711-CR-930, the Court of Appeals overturned Damen Holly's drug conviction because the traffic stop that led to his arrest was unconstitutional. The appellate court ruled the officer who stopped the car Holly was driving didn't have reasonable suspicion there was criminal activity going on in the car. Holly was originally pulled over after the officer ran a license plate check of the car to show it was registered to a woman.

In Kail Fortson v. State of Indiana, No. 82A04-0801-CR-16, the appellate court reversed Fortson's conviction of receiving stolen property because the judges believed the circumstances of the case didn't support a reasonable inference Fortson had knowledge the car he was driving was stolen. Fortson was charged with receiving stolen property after police pulled over the car he was driving that matched the description and license plate number of a car reported stolen. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented based on the evidence that Fortson was found in possession of the truck about two miles away from where it was stolen just a few hours earlier. The jury that heard the case rejected his explanation that he borrowed the car, she wrote, and based on the totality of the circumstances, she would affirm his conviction.

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  1. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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