Articles Posted in Indiana Supreme Court

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Law enforcement officers arrested Defendant on two counts of theft and seized his clothing, including his shoes, in accordance with their standard booking protocols. After police found what appeared to be blood under the laces of Defendant’s left shoe they subjected the shoe to laboratory testing. The testing revealed the presence of a murder victim’s DNA in that blood. Defendant was charged with murder and theft. Defendant moved to suppress the DNA evidence found on his shoe, arguing that the police should have obtained a separate warrant before subjecting the shoe to testing. The trial court denied the motion, and Defendant was subsequently convicted on all charges. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that police need not obtain a warrant before subjecting lawfully seized evidence to laboratory testing even if that evidence is unrelated to the crime for which the defendant is in custody. View "Guilmette v. State" on Justia Law

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Upon responding to a call about an unsupervised toddler wandering near an apartment-complex retention pond, Defendant informed the police that he was the child’s father. Defendant consented to police entry into his apartment, and the child’s mother, the leaseholder, consented to a full search. The police officers subsequently discovered contraband in the apartment and charged Defendant with unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, neglect of a dependent, dealing marijuana, possessing marijuana, and possession of paraphernalia. Defendant pleaded guilty to the neglect and marijuana-possession counts, and the case proceeded to a trial on the remaining counts. During trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence found during law enforcement’s pat-down search and subsequent search. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant was acquitted of dealing marijuana but found guilty on the remaining charges. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, as Defendant consented to police entering the apartment, Defendant’s movements justified a pat-down, and the mother gave her consent to search the rest of the apartment. View "McIlquham v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a non-native English speaker, pleaded guilty to one count of delivery of cocaine within one thousand feet of a school. Ten years later, Defendant filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his plea was not entered knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily because the court-appointed interpreted failed to accurately translate Defendant’s Boykin rights. The post-conviction court denied relief. The court of appeals affirmed, determining that the advisement was defective but, nonetheless, Defendant knew at the time of the plea hearing that he was waiving his Boykin rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant was not properly advised of the constitutional rights he was waiving by pleading guilty and did not understand his constitutional rights when he purportedly waived them. View "Ponce v. State" on Justia Law

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After a detective received a tip that Defendant, who was African American, was responsible for a 2007 murder, the detective brought Defendant into an interrogation room to question him about the murder. In order to convince Defendant to admit his guilt, the detective implied during the interrogation that Defendant’s race precluded him from receiving a fair trial and an impartial jury. Defendant confessed to the murder. Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement, claiming that it was involuntarily given. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, in order to induce a confession, a police officer’s tactic of intentionally misleading a suspect as to his constitutionally guaranteed rights to a fair trial and an impartial jury, because of the suspect’s race, renders that confession involuntary. Remanded. View "Bond v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was indicted on several charges relating to his divorce case. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of one felony count of intimidating the trial judge, two misdemeanor counts of intimidation involving the judge’s wife and a psychologist who was an expert witness in the divorce, and one felony count of attempted obstruction of justice relating to the psychologist. Defendant appealed on free speech grounds. The court of appeals reversed the misdemeanor-level intimidation convictions and affirmed the felony convictions. The Supreme Court granted transfer, affirmed Defendant’s convictions for intimidation of a judge and attempted obstruction of justice, and summarily affirmed the court of appeals on all other counts, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in its free speech analysis by failing to distinguish between Defendant’s attacks on his victims’ reputations, which are protected by the stringent actual malice standard, and Defendant’s true threats to the victims’ safety, which receive no such protection; but (2) there was ample evidence of true threats to support Defendant’s convictions for intimidating the judge and Defendant’s attempted obstruction of justice regarding the psychologist. View "Brewington v. State" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with murder and criminal gang activity. During trial, the trial court excused a juror from the jury after she disclosed that she had a frightening experience at her apartment and that she could not render an impartial verdict. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion for a mistrial, concluding that the juror’s incident was unrelated to Defendant’s case and that the jury could remain impartial. The jury subsequently found Defendant guilty of murder and criminal gang activity. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a mistrial, holding (1) defendants are entitled to a rebuttable presumption of prejudice when they can show by a preponderance of the evidence that an unauthorized, extra-judicial contact or communication with jurors occurred and that the contact or communication pertained to the matter before the jury; and (2) Defendant in this case was not entitled to the presumption of prejudice because he failed to prove that the juror’s extraneous contact and communications related to his case. View "Ramirez v. State" on Justia Law

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In 2005, Appellant was convicted of a sex crime against an adult female. In 2009, Appellant was released to statutorily mandated parole. The conditions of Appellant’s parole prohibited Appellant from having contact with children, even his own, and included a requirement that Appellant participate in, and successfully complete, a state treatment program for sex offenders. Appellant filed suit, seeking a declaratory judgment as to the constitutionality of those parole conditions. The trial court granted summary judgment to Appellant with respect to the conditions involving Appellant’s family but otherwise denied Appellant summary judgment on his other claims. Before the case reached the Supreme Court, the Parole Board conceded that it no longer sought to impose the parole conditions in a manner that would restrict Appellant’s relationships with his children and wife. The Supreme Court (1) concluded that some of Appellant’s parole conditions were impermissible, including the conditions that were aimed at restricting Appellant from being near or associating with children, as there was no evidence that Appellant was a threat to children; (2) found no fault with the remainder of the conditions; and (3) found no constitutional flaw in the state treatment program. View "Bleeke v. Lemmon" on Justia Law

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The County Department of Child Services filed a petition to involuntarily terminate the parental rights of Mother to her four children. The case was tried to a judge who resigned before reporting recommended findings and conclusions to Judge Marilyn Moores. The case was transferred to Magistrate Larry Bradley, who reviewed the hearing record and reported recommended findings and conclusions without holding a new evidentiary hearing. Judge Moores approved the findings and conclusions and terminated Mother’s parental rights. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s judgment, holding that, in accord with In re I.P., also decided today, the procedure used in this case violated Mother’s due process rights. Remanded. View "In re Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of S.B." on Justia Law

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The County Department of Child Services filed a petition to involuntarily terminate the parental rights of Father to his child. At the conclusion of the termination hearing, the magistrate that presided over the hearing resigned her position before reporting recommended factual findings and conclusions to Judge Marilyn Moores. The case was subsequently transferred to Magistrate Larry Bradley, who reviewed the hearing record and reported recommended findings and conclusions without holding a new evidentiary hearing. Judge Moores approved the findings and conclusions and terminated Father’s parental rights. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that where a case is tried to a judge who resigns before determining the issues, a successor judge cannot decide the issues or enter findings without a trial de novo. Remanded. View "In re Involuntary Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of I.P." on Justia Law

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A law enforcement officer stopped the vehicle Defendant was driving after observing the vehicle driving under the speed limit and coming to a full stop before turning onto a county road, where Defendant drove left of center. Defendant was subsequently charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and with an alcohol concentration equivalent of 0.08 or more. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress on the ground that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to initiate the traffic stop, taking judicial notice of the poor condition of the county’s roads, which required “evasive action” on the part of drivers. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding that, under these circumstances, the trial court did not clearly err in concluding that Defendant’s driving left of center did not provide reasonable suspicion to stop him. View "State v. Keck" on Justia Law