Appeals panel to hear arguments in traffic stop, cash forfeiture case

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday will hear oral argument in a civil forfeiture case involving the Hancock County prosecutor and tens of thousands of dollars.

An appellate panel consisting of Judges Melissa May, Margaret Robb and Nancy Vaidik will hear arguments in Emery Brown v. Brent Eaton, Hancock County Prosecutor, 19A-MI-01999, at 10 a.m. ET Monday. The case stems from the seizure of $32,284 from Emery Brown’s vehicle during a traffic stop conducted by the Fortville Police Department.

The officers, who seized the currency in May 2017, also discovered a cell phone and a small amount of marijuana on Brown and arrested him. Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton filed criminal charges against Brown and initiated civil forfeiture proceedings. Brown eventually pleaded  guilty in Hancock Superior Court to misdemeanor charges of possessing marijuana and operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Following a bench trial, the court ordered forfeiture of the currency seized by the police. On appeal, Brown argues that the trial court erred in admitting pre-Miranda statements he made to officers at the scene of the traffic stop and that Eaton presented insufficient evidence to support the forfeiture order.

On cross-appeal, Eaton argues the trial court erred in excluding from evidence data extracted from Brown’s cell phone.

Arguments in the case can be watched online here.

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