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Monday, June 30, 2008

Ind. Decisions - The Supreme Court has now posted two (now three) more this afternoon

Willie Eaton v. State of Indiana is an 11-page, 4-1 opinion, with a 4-page dissent. Justice Dickson writes:

In this direct appeal, the defendant challenges his convictions for Dealing in Cocaine, a class A felony, and Possession of Marijuana, a class A misdemeanor. The Court of Appeals reversed both convictions, finding that evidence was improperly admitted due to the insufficiency of a police affidavit on which an initial search warrant was issued. We granted transfer and affirm the convictions. * * *

We reject the defendant's claim that the warrant authorizing the search of his home was not supported by sufficient probable cause. * * *

Without explanatory argument or citation to supporting authority, the defendant simply declares that the col-lection and seizure of the items not enumerated in the search warrants "comprises a clear violation" of his constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure. * * *

These claims are not meritorious. A police officer may seize evidence not identified in a warrant "when he inadvertently discovers items of readily apparent criminality while rightfully occupying a particular location." * * *

Conclusion We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan, and Boehm, JJ., concur.
Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion. [which concludes] Today’s ruling invites the Government’s search of a suspect’s business, home, garage, tool shed, workshop, or any other property a suspect may use simply because a law enforcement officer believes, without more, that evidence of crime can be found there. In my view this is an anathema to the mandate of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution as well as Article I, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. There were no bases in this case, substantial or otherwise, for the magistrate to conclude that probable cause existed for the issuance of a search warrant. Eaton’s motion to suppress should have been granted. Therefore I agree with the result reached by the Court of Appeals and would reverse the judgment of the trial court.

In 600 Land Inc. v. Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals of Marion Co., Indiana, et al., a 3-2 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:
600 Land, Inc. is the owner of land in Marion County on which it wants to build a “solid waste transfer station.” The County contends that a special exception from the zoning ordinance is required. The land is zoned to permit a “motor truck terminal” to be operated without a special use permit. 600 Land’s proposed use qualifies as a “motor truck terminal” because “[a] terminal may include facilities for the temporary storage of loads prior to transshipment.” * * *

Conclusion. The judgment of the trial court that 600 Land is required to obtain a special use permit for its transfer station is reversed.

Shepard, C.J., and Dickson and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Boehm, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Dickson J., concurs. [The dissent begins:] I respectfully dissent. The majority concludes that a waste transfer facility is a “motor truck terminal” requiring no special exception under the applicable zoning ordinance. To reach this conclusion the majority parses various provisions of the governing ordinance and cites a number of rules of statutory construction, but in my view fails to deal with those that are central to this case.

It seems to me that if we asked a group of average citizens whether a waste transfer station was a motor truck terminal, we would get at best a tie for the position the majority reaches. I acknowledge that the proposed “waste transfer station” meets the technical definition of “motor truck terminal” because it involves the parking, storing, and servicing of trucks. But the activities of a waste transfer station go beyond that definition. Most people would regard garbage as different for purposes of land use regulation from consumer or industrial products on their way to customers. So as a matter of ordinary English, I find the majority’s reading of the ordinance quite strained. But there are also several legal points that the majority does not address.

In Brenwick Associates LLC and Town of Whitestown, Indiana v. Boone County Redevelopment Commission and the Board of Commissioners of Boone County, Indiana, a 9-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:
The Town of Whitestown initiated annexation of unincorporated land in Boone County to spur economic development. Ten days later, the County itself initiated proceedings to establish a special taxing district (called an economic development area) that included the same unincorporated land. Our State’s economic development statutes permitted Boone County to establish the economic development area at issue in this case even though it included the same land that Whitestown was attempting to annex. * * * The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 30, 2008 03:33 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions