Justices let stand suppression in drug case, grant transfer in 2 others

Indiana Supreme Court justices agreed to hear two cases on grant of transfer last week, denying one other involving a faulty controlled drug buy.

In State of Indiana v. Dusten T. Vance, a divided Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the suppression of evidence of cocaine found in Dusten Vance’s home after police executed a search warrant. Law enforcement argued there was probable cause for the warrant because an individual they identified had visited the home and then provided drugs to a confidential informant, who then moved it along to police.

But the COA majority found the evidence seized during the search to be in violation of Vance’s Fourth Amendment Rights, further rejecting the state’s argument to extend a good faith exception to the exclusionary rule. Judge Cale Bradford dissented, stating he would reverse the suppression order based on the totality of circumstances, including that Vance’s residence was a known drug house previously involved in a Muncie SWAT search.

Justices did grant transfer and decide two other cases last week — both per curiam orders — dealing with a denied sentence modification request and finding a trial court judge abused discretion in threatening an attorney with contempt of court.

The split high court reversed in Anthony Bedolla v. State of Indiana19S-PC-328, finding the post-conviction court abused its discretion by preventing and denying Anthony Bedolla’s attorney the opportunity to make an offer of proof concerning anticipated testimony from a man who had information that could exonerate Bedolla.

Justice Geoffrey Slaughter concurred in part regarding the lower court’s “heavy-handed” approach to the attorney’s persistent requests, but he dissented in a separate opinion on the issue of Bedolla’s granted relief, finding it exceeded the amount sought.

In Kevin Michael Barber v. State of Indiana,19S-CR-329, the high court affirmed the denial of Kevin Barber’s motion to modify his sentence for child-molesting-related convictions. It found Barber’s motion governed by subsection (k) of Indiana Code 35-38-1-17, and that he did not have prosecutorial consent to modification.

The full list of transfers for the week ending May 31 can be found here.

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