COA heading northwest, southwest for oral arguments

The Indiana Court of Appeals will head northwest to start off a full week of oral arguments in Newton and Tippecanoe counties, ending its trip down south in Daviess and Gibson counties.

First, appellate judges will hear oral argument in Pierre A. Smith, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-00478 on Tuesday at 9 a.m. in the North Newton High School Gymnasium in Morocco. Smith was found guilty for unlawfully carrying a firearm as a serious violent felon after officers concluded he threw a handgun out of his car window before being pulled over for a traffic stop.

Smith argues that the state presented insufficient evidence to prove that he constructively possessed the firearm that was found 15 feet away from where Smith pulled over his car before the stop.

Later in the week, judges will hear argument in two cases — one involving a food truck explosion and another involving juvenile delinquency. In the first case, German Linares was injured by the explosion of a taco truck and contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to U-Pull-And-Pay, the co-defendant owner of the real estate on which the food truck was parked at time of the explosion.

Linares argues UPAP failed to take reasonable steps to investigate the food truck’s operations, and that UPAP was a joint venture in the operation of the food truck on its commercial property. German A. Linares v. El Tacarajo and U-Pull-and-Pay, LLC d/b/a Pic a Part, 18A-CT-00276. will be heard at the Purdue University Krannert Center for Executive Education in West Lafayette at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Also on Thursday, judges will hear argument in J.S. v. State of Indiana, 18A-JV-00826 in which juvenile J.S. was found running toward an officer after fleeing from a traffic stop holding what officers thought looked like a handgun. Officers later found a handgun on the ground near where J.S. had fled, but found only a cellphone in his hand, not a gun.

J.S. was adjudicated as a delinquent child based upon true findings of dangerous possession of a firearm and conduct related to fleeing law enforcement. On appeal, J.S. challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the true finding of dangerous possession of a firearm. His case will be heard at Princeton Community High School at 12:45 p.m.

Finally, judges will end the week with an operating while intoxicated case, Brian Harold Connor v. State of Indiana, 18A-CR-00442, in which Connor appeals his Class C misdemeanor conviction of operating a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration equivalent to at least 0.08 gram of alcohol but less than 0.15 gram of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Connor argues the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted into evidence the results of a chemical breath test obtained by police at a sobriety checkpoint. The case will be heard at 10 a.m. on Friday at Washington High School, 608 E. Walnut St.

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