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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issued one Indiana ruling today

In U.S. v. Bullock (ND Ind., Springmann), a 39-page opinion, Judge Tinder writes:

Derrick Bullock pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute at least five grams but less than fifty grams of cocaine base (“crack”) in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). His plea was conditioned on his ability to appeal the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence of the crack that led to his conviction. The events giving rise to Bullock’s arrest began when Detective John Greenlee of the Fort Wayne Police Department received an anonymous tip that someone by the name of “Quick” was selling cocaine from a residence on Euclid Street. Based on the information provided by the tipster, Greenlee was able to determine the address of the residence and that “Quick” was Bullock. Greenlee began surveillance of the residence and corroborated the tip by observing Bullock leaving the residence on several occasions and engaging in activity indicative of drug dealing. Armed with this information, Greenlee obtained a warrant to search the Euclid Street address.

Prior to execution of the warrant, during pre-raid surveillance, Greenlee observed Bullock leaving the residence in a vehicle driven by Sabrina Wilhelm, the lessee of the residence. Greenlee was aware that Wilhelm did not have a valid driver’s license, so he instructed uniformed officers to stop the vehicle. Officers made the stop, transported Bullock back to the residence, and detained him in the squad car while they executed the search warrant. Upon finding marijuana in plain view on the dining room table in the residence, along with sandwich baggies containing a small amount of crack and a scale in another part of the residence, officers arrested Bullock for visiting a common nuisance under Indiana Code § 35-48-4-13(a). Bullock was taken to the police station where a search of his person revealed sixteen individually wrapped baggies of crack.

On appeal, Bullock claims that the crack was obtained as the result of an unlawful detention without reasonable suspicion and subsequent unlawful arrest without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The district court disagreed and found that there was reasonable suspicion to detain Bullock during the search, relying on Michigan v. Summers, 452 U.S. 692 (1981), where the Court held that police lawfully detained the defendant (who was leaving his residence as officers approached) while they executed a valid search warrant of the residence. The district court further found that probable cause existed to arrest Bullock for visiting a common nuisance under Indiana law after officers found marijuana in plain view and other evidence of more widespread, continuous, and recurrent drug activity within the residence. We affirm. Bullock’s detention was lawful under the principles set forth in Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), and for similar reasons was justified under Summers. We also find that his subsequent arrest was supported by probable cause.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 1, 2011 12:57 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions