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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one Indiana opinion

In United States v. Rivas (ND Ind., Judge Lozano), a 16-page opinion, Judge Bauer writes:

Hernandez-Rivas essentially makes the same underlying argument here as he did in his motion to suppress—that the trooper did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop the van—so the issue was properly preserved for appeal. * * *

Hernandez-Rivas maintains that the van was predominately in the same lane and maintained a direct course, therefore its movements were not a change from one traffic lane to another, and were conducted with reasonable safety. However, this argument was rejected by the district court when it credited Trooper Carmin’s testimony in holding that the van violated either provision of the Indiana Code. We see no reason to disturb the district court’s finding that the stop was valid and supported by probable cause.

Next, Hernandez-Rivas argues that the district court abused its discretion when it refused to accept his guilty plea, because it did not consider any other evidence other than Hernandez-Rivas’s allocution, and the court failed to determine if there was a factual basis to support whether Hernandez-Rivas demonstrated “reckless disregard” for the illegal status of the occupants in the van. Hernandez-Rivas also claims that the district court erred by failing to consider his later attempts to plead guilty. * * *

In light of his failed attempts to plead guilty, and in light of the myriad of inconsistencies in his pleas, the court reasonably interpreted Hernandez-Rivas’s remarks as an indication that his plea was not knowing and voluntary, and that he did not believe he had committed a crime. The district judge acted within his discretion when he rejected Hernandez-Rivas’s initial guilty plea, and his reasons for rejecting the initial plea and the subsequent attempted pleas are sound.

For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the district court is AFFIRMED.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 23, 2008 01:15 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions