Defendant cleared ‘low bar’ to require reversal of summary judgment

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The Indiana Supreme Court reversed summary judgment in favor of the state on its motion for forfeiture of cash found on a man accused of dealing cocaine. The justices found the man’s “self-serving” affidavit specifically controverted the state’s prima facie case that the cash was connected to drug crimes.

When the state knocked at Antonio Hughley’s home to search for a suspect in a car chase, they were allowed in and saw evidence of cocaine dealing in plain view. A search warrant was obtained and police found 550 grams of cocaine. When he was arrested, police found nearly $4,000 in cash on Hughley in his pocket.

After he was convicted of dealing cocaine and related offenses, the state filed civil proceedings for forfeiture of his cash and a 1977 Buick, which was parked in front of his home. Hughley filed an affidavit denying that the cash or car was connected to the dealing. It said in part: “The U.S. currency seized from me during my arrest … is not the proceeds from criminal activity nor was it intended for a violation of any criminal statute.”

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the state on its motion regarding the cash, but denied it as to the Buick. Only the cash is at issue in Antonio Hughley v. State of Indiana, The Consolidated City of Indianapolis/Marion County, and The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 49S04-1406-MI-386.

“Under Indiana Trial Rule 56, summary judgment is precluded by any ‘genuine’ issue of material fact – that is, any issue requiring the trier of fact to resolve the parties’ differing accounts of the truth. Merely resting on the pleadings will not permit the non-movant to raise such an issue, but a competent affidavit will,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote. “Here, Defendant’s affidavit was self-serving and none too detailed – but it was competent, and it contradicted the State’s designated evidence on material fact.

“It was therefore sufficient to preclude summary judgment, regardless of whether Defendant would likely prevail at trial. We accordingly reverse the trial court.”

The justices ordered the trial court to deny the state’s motion for summary judgment.


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