Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana

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The Supreme Court held that the Fee Exemption, a provision in Ind. Code 36-1-20-5 that allows the cities of Bloomington and West Lafayette to charge local landlords any amount to register rental properties, is unconstitutional special legislation that must be struck down but that the remainder of section 36-1-20-5 remains in force. While the Fee Exemption singles out the cities of Bloomington and West Lafayette for preferential treatment, all other Indiana localities are restricted to charging only $5 under another provision - the Fee Restriction - in section 36-1-20-5. The City of Hammond challenged the Fee Exemption as unconstitutional under Ind. Const. art. IV, 23. The Supreme Court agreed with the City and held that the Fee Exemption is unconstitutional but that the remainder of the statute, including the Fee Restriction, remained in effect and now operates statewide. View "City of Hammond v. Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions, holding that accessing Defendant’s historical cell-site location information (CSLI) was a Fourth Amendment search under Carpenter v. United States, 585 U.S. __ (2018), but even if the CSLI evidence should have been excluded, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendant was convicted of two counts of robbery with a deadly weapon and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State’s warrantless procurement of his CSLI records violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Ind. Const. art. I, 11. The Supreme Court affirmed. After Carpenter was decided, the United States Supreme Court vacated the Supreme Court’s decision and remanded the case for reconsideration in light of Carpenter. On remand, the Supreme Court held (1) in light of Carpenter, the State’s access to Defendant’s historical CSLI was a Fourth Amendment search; and (2) the admission of the CSLI evidence was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Zanders v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the lower courts denying Appellant’s petition for post-conviction relief on the basis that his attorney provided deficient performance that prejudiced him, holding that counsel rendered ineffective assistance to Appellant by failing to properly advise him about the immigration consequences of a misdemeanor guilty plea. Appellant pleaded guilty to stealing less than twenty dollars of merchandise from Walmart without realizing that his guilty plea made him a deportable felon under federal immigration law. Appellant sought post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The lower courts denied relief. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Appellant’s attorney rendered constitutionally deficient performance as a matter of law by independently marking “N/A” next to the citizenship advisement on the standard advisement of rights from before inquiring into Appellant’s citizenship status; and (2) counsel’s deficient performance prejudiced Appellant. View "Bobadilla v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained after Defendant was stopped for speeding, holding that there was reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop under the circumstances. At issue was whether there was reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop where the police officer’s calibrated radar indicated that an oncoming vehicle was speeding and the officer verified the radar speed exceeded the posted speed limit but failed to document the excessive speed. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress on the basis that the officer’s stop of Defendant was based upon his observation that a traffic infraction was being committed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the traffic stop passed muster under both the United States and Indiana Constitutions. View "Marshall v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the post-conviction court denying Appellant’s petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective, holding that, although counsel made some mistakes, counsel’s performance was not deficient. Appellant was convicted of murdering two children and arson. The convictions were affirmed on appeal. Thereafter, Appellant sought post-conviction relief, alleging multiple instances of ineffective assistance by trial and appellate counsel. The trial court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) counsel’s mistakes did not rise to the level of deficient performance pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984); and (2) further, Appellant had not demonstrated that there was a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. View "Weisheit v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of four counts of felony child molesting, holding that the attenuation doctrine can apply under the Indiana Constitution and that Defendant’s statements to law enforcement constituted admissible evidence against him. Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained from an FBI search and subsequent police interviews, alleging that he had been illegally detained and searched. The trial court suppressed evidence obtained from searching Defendant’s computer and electronic equipment, finding that Defendant’s consent to the search was invalid but denied suppression of Defendant’s statements to law enforcement officers, concluding that they were sufficiently attenuated from the illegal search. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions, holding that the trial court erred in admitting Defendant’s confessions to the officers, ultimately rejecting the attenuation doctrine for Indiana. The Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals opinion and affirmed, holding (1) the Indiana Constitution embraces the attenuation doctrine; and (2) Defendant’s statements to law enforcement were sufficiently attenuated from the illegal search so as to be purged from the original taint and were thus admissible at trial. View "Wright v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the requirement set forth in Pirtle v. State, 323 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 1975), that an advisement of rights be given prior to police obtaining consent to a search from a person in custody does not extend to drug recognition exams (DRE). At issue was whether police are required to advise a person in custody of his or her right to consult with counsel before obtaining consent to perform the DRE exam. The Court of Appeals concluded that without a Pirtle warning, evidence obtained through a DRE is inadmissible. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that an advisement is not necessary before police can obtain a person’s valid consent to a DRE. View "Dycus v. State" on Justia Law

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The trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s incriminating statements made in a motel room during the course of a custodial interrogation without an electronic recording of those statements. Defendant was charged with and convicted of several drug crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that two post-Miranda self-incriminating statements he made to officers in a motel room should not have been admitted into evidence because no electronic recording of the statements was made available at trial, as required by Ind. R. Evid. 617. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a motel room, as used by law enforcement in this case to carry out an undercover investigation and to search a suspect incident to his arrest, is not a place of detention as defined by Rule 617. View "Fansler v. State" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was when public school students are entitled to Miranda warnings at school. B.A., who was thirteen years old, was escorted from a school bus and questioned in a vice-principal’s office in response to a bomb threat on a bathroom wall. Three officers wearing police uniforms hovered over B.A. and encouraged him to confess. B.A. moved to suppress the evidence from his interview, arguing that he was entitled to Miranda warnings because he was under custodial interrogation and officers failed to secure waiver of his Miranda rights under Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute, Ind. Code 31-32-5-1. The juvenile court denied the motion and found B.A. delinquent for committing false reporting and institutional criminal mischief. The Supreme Court reversed B.A.’s delinquency adjudications, holding (1) B.A. was in police custody and under police interrogation when he made the incriminating statements; and (2) therefore, B.A.’s statements should have been suppressed under both Miranda and Indiana’s juvenile waiver statute. View "B.A. v. State" on Justia Law

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Because Defendant’s affirmative actions at trial resulted in a violation of his right to an impartial jury, the invited-error doctrine required that Defendant’s conviction be affirmed. After a second trial, Defendant was found guilty of murder. During trial, defense counsel expressly agreed to the trial court’s constitutionally defective procedure for removing and replacing a juror after deliberations had begun. On appeal, Defendant argued that, despite his acquiescence, the court’s procedure violated his constitutional right to an impartial jury, thus resulting in reversible error. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there is no reason to exempt structural errors from the invited-error doctrine; and (2) Defendant invited the error in this case as part of a deliberate trial strategy, and therefore, his conviction must be affirmed. View "Durden v. State" on Justia Law