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Justices to hear arguments in speeding-turned-OWI case

October 12, 2018

The Indiana Supreme Court will hear oral argument on Monday to decide whether a man’s motion to suppress evidence was wrongfully denied by a trial court, which found that a police officer’s belief that the man was speeding constituted reasonable suspicion to support the man’s eventual drunken driving arrest.

The case of Zachariah Marshall v. State of Indiana,18S-CR-00464, began in October 2016, when Zachariah Marshall was pulled over by a Porter County reserve officer based upon his belief that Marshall was speeding. Soon thereafter, the stop escalated to an investigation into operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Marshall was arrested and subsequently filed a motion to suppress, alleging the traffic stop was unlawful because the officer’s belief that he was speeding was, alone, insufficient to prove how fast Marshall was driving prior to the stop. The trial court denied Marshall’s motion, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed and remanded that decision in a June order. 

Specifically, the appellate court noted that while the officer had a properly calibrated radar that was working, he could not testify to Marshall’s speed, but only said he was going faster than the posted speed limit. But for the traffic stop to be valid, the court held there must be reasonable suspicion that a traffic law had been violated or other criminal activity was afoot. It also found that reasonable suspicion does not include general hunches or suspicions.

In its petition to transfer, the state argued the trial court properly denied Marshall’s motion to suppress and that the traffic stop did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights or the Indiana Constitution. Marshall, however, argued the traffic stop violated his Fourth Amendment rights and his rights under Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution, so the COA properly reversed the denial of his motion to suppress.

Arguments in Marshall’s case will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday.

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