Justices grant transfer to suppression case, 2 others

The Indiana Supreme Court bench. (IL file photo)

Indiana Supreme Court justices have agreed to consider three cases for the week ending March 17.

The cases include one in which a man who was pulled over and charged with cocaine possession and other felonies convinced an appellate panel that evidence stemming from the stop should be suppressed.

The dispute in Avis Deforest White v. State of Indiana, 22A-CR-978, stems from an October 2020 traffic stop in Brownsburg.

An officer was on patrol when he submitted an inquiry to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles regarding a car’s registration.

The BMV record screen showed the registration’s status was “inactive,” but it also showed that the expiration date for the license number was Dec. 7, 2020.

On the basis of the “inactive” registration status, Nelson initiated a traffic stop of the car, driven by Avis Deforest White.

As a result of the traffic stop, the state charged White with Level 4 felony possession of cocaine; Level 6 felony theft of a firearm; Level 6 felony obstruction of justice; Class A misdemeanor driving while suspended; Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana; and an infraction relating to the car’s registration.

The Hendricks Superior Court denied White’s motion to suppress, but a split Court of Appeals of Indiana panel reversed, finding the officer conflated the word “inactive” with “expired.”

The court will also consider State of Indiana v. $2,435 in United States Currency and Alucious Kizer22A-CR-578.

In that case, Alucious Kizer was pulled over by police for a traffic stop in September 2021, and he fled from the vehicle.

In the process, Kizer allegedly attempted to dispose of more than 74 grams of methamphetamine, 67 grams of fentanyl, 12 grams of powder cocaine, 10 grams of crack cocaine and 10 grams of a synthetic cannabinoid.

Officers seized $1,410 from his person and another $1,025 from his car. A complaint was filed in the Allen Circuit Court for the forfeiture of the $2,435 seized from Kizer and his vehicle. In his answer, Kizer denied the allegations and requested a jury trial on the forfeiture complaint.

Although it initially struck Kizer’s demand for a jury trial, in January 2022, the trial court reconsidered its order, vacated it and, citing Article 1, Section 20 of the Indiana Constitution, set the matter for a jury trial.

The Court of Appeals reversed, however, finding that the trial court erred when it concluded that Article 1, Section 20 of the Indiana Constitution requires a jury trial on the state’s in rem forfeiture complaint.

The court also agreed to consider Jason Morehouse and Sarah Morehouse v. Dux North LLC, 22A-PL-664, which concerns an Arcadia couple’s easement dispute with a duck hunting group.

Jason and Sarah Morehouse bought two contiguous parcels of land in Hamilton County near Morse Reservoir in December 2018.

The previous owners of the parcels — Maurice and Gwendolyn Marshall — also owned a third contiguous parcel that they sold separately to Shorewood Corporation in 1991.

At that time, Shorewood owned three contiguous parcels adjacent to Parcel 3. The southern tract had access to a public road.

Since at least 1985, a gravel lane access road across the Morehouse property has connected Parcel 3, which is landlocked, to a public road.

From 1991 until Gwendolyn Marshall’s death in 2018, the owners of Parcel 3, including Dux North and its predecessors in interest, were permitted to use the access road.

The Marshalls even allowed Dux North Inc. to place a padlock on a gate located at the entrance to its property on the access road.

From 1991 until Gwendolyn’s death in 2018, the owners of Parcel 3, including Dux North and its predecessors in interest, were permitted to use the access road.

The Marshalls allowed Dux North to place a padlock on a gate located at the entrance to its property on the access road. But in June 2020, a member of Dux North found the lock had been changed.

Dux North filed a complaint for declaratory judgment in December 2020 against the Morehouses, alleging it had an easement of necessity over the Morehouse property.

The Morehouses filed an answer and counterclaim to quiet title.

In August 2021, Dux North filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that it is entitled to an easement of necessity over the Morehouses’ property as a matter of law. The Morehouses filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment, alleging that Dux North is not entitled to an easement of necessity as a matter of law.

Hamilton Superior Court concluded Dux North had an easement by prior use over the Morehouse property and entered summary judgment and denied motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether Dux North had an easement of necessity.

The Court of Appeals ruled the trial court erred on both issues.

The COA found there was no absolute necessity for an easement over the Morehouse property at the time of the severance in April 1991. The panel also found the trial court erred because Dux North didn’t designate evidence to show that the access road is absolutely necessary to access Parcel 3.

The justices denied transfer to 20 other cases last week.

They concurred on all denials except for three.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush voted to grant transfer to Gustavo Colindres-Aldana v. State of Indiana, 22A-CR-802.

In a memorandum decision, a split Court of Appeals affirmed Gustavo Colindres-Aldana’s conviction of Level 1 felony child molesting, finding the evidence to be sufficient.

Rush also voted to grant transfer to A.M. v. State of Indiana, 22A-JV-755.

In a memorandum decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed A.M.’s adjudication as a juvenile delinquent based on true findings for the offenses of Level 2 felony burglary and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement if committed by an adult.

Justices Mark Massa and Christopher Goff voted to grant transfer to Johnthan Quarles v. State of Indiana, 21A-CR-2584.

In a memorandum decision, a split Court of Appeals reversed Johnthan Quarles’ conviction of Level 2 felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.

The court found the Marion Superior Court abused its discretion by admitting evidence obtained from a notebook, and the improper admission into evidence of the notebook pages affected Quarles’ substantial rights.

The court also found there was sufficient evidence to support the guilty verdict, so Quarles was subject to retrial on the robbery charge.

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