Divided court lets stand suppression of pat-down evidence

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Three of Indiana’s five Supreme Court justices vacated transfer on a suppression-of-evidence case, letting stand a divided Court of Appeals ruling that a trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence obtained in a questionable pat-down search.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justices Brent Dickson and Robert Rucker vacated transfer in, Robert L. Dixon v. State of Indiana, 84A01-1307-CR-339. The was remanded to the trial court.

Dixon pulled his car over in a residential Terre Haute neighborhood, got out and began to walk away when a police officer ordered him back to the car and threatened to use his Taser. A pat-down search revealed three bags of cocaine.

But the COA majority held the officer had no reason to believe Dixon was engaged in criminal activity, and that a Terry stop does not allow for a search for anything but weapons.

Justices Steven David and Mark Massa dissented from the decision to vacate transfer and would have supported the minority Court of Appeals opinion from Judge Cale Bradford, who wrote that the officer had credible evidence Dixon might be a drug dealer and sufficient concerns for officer safety to justify the search.

Justices last week vacated transfer in another case, Jason L. Dague v. State of Indiana, 01S05-1502-CR-62. The court let stand the Court of Appeals decision affirming the trial court’s denial of Dague’s revocation of probation and denial of motions for a continuance and to present certain evidence. Rush dissented from the denial of transfer.

Indiana Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.

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