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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ind. Courts - Supreme Court decides two today

In Marvin Taylor v. State of Indiana, a 9-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rucker writes:

Defendant Marvin Taylor filed an interlocutory appeal challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress cocaine seized as the result of an inventory search of his car. Concluding the inventory search was impermissible we reverse the judgment of the trial court. * * *

Generally, a search warrant is a prerequisite to a constitutionally proper search and seizure. Halsema v. State, 823 N.E.2d 668, 676 (Ind. 2005). In cases involving a warrantless search, the State bears the burden of proving an exception to the warrant requirement. Id. We recognize a valid inventory search as an exception to the Article I, Section 11 warrant requirement. Thus the State must show that the search was reasonable in light of the totality of circumstances. Trowbridge v. State, 717 N.E.2d 138, 144 (Ind. 1999). In this case, the factors leading to our conclusion that impounding Taylor’s car was not warranted by police administrative caretaking functions support the conclusion that the requirements of the Indiana Constitution were violated as well. In plain terms, considering all of the facts known to the police officers at the moment of impoundment, it simply was not reasonable for them to believe that consistent with objective standards of sound policing, Taylor’s vehicle posed some threat or harm to the community or the vehicle itself was imperiled.

Conclusion. The State did not carry its burden under either the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. The judgment of the trial court is therefore reversed and this cause remanded with instructions to grant Taylor’s motion to suppress.

In State of Indiana v. Thomas A. Quirk, a 10-page, 5-0 opinion where you really need to read the facts to see the whole picture, Justice Rucker concludes:
We conclude that under the totality of the circumstances the Troopers’ detention of Quirk beyond the period necessary to issue a warning ticket and the subsequent search of his truck was unreasonable within the meaning of Article I, Section 11. As a result, the evidence seized thereby was tainted and was properly suppressed. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 14, 2006 10:24 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions