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Friday, July 22, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Two 7th Circuit opinions today from Indiana

There were two Indiana opinions today.

In US v. Griffin (SD Ind., Young), a 20-page opinion, Judge Sykes writes:

When two Indiana police officers attempted to stop a car matching the description of one reportedly involved in a road-rage incident, the driver Jadrion Griffin, initially showed signs of compliance. He then changed his mind and continued to drive, prompting a brief low-speed car chase. Griffin eventually pulled over, but not before leading the officers through a parking lot where he tossed a plastic bag containing 82 grams of crack into newly fallen snow.

Law-enforcement officers later obtained a federal warrant to search Griffin’s home and there recovered additional crack cocaine and a loaded handgun. A federal grand jury indicted Griffin on a number of drug- and gunrelated crimes. Griffin moved to suppress the evidence of the drugs recovered from the snowy parking lot. The district court denied the motion, and the government introduced the drug evidence at trial. The jury convicted Griffin of all but one of the counts charged. The court imposed a 360-month sentence.

On appeal Griffin claims he was illegally seized when he threw the crack in the snow and therefore the drug evidence should have been suppressed. He also raises two challenges to his sentence. He first claims that he should not have been sentenced as a career offender under section 4B1.1 of the sentencing guidelines because his prior conviction for vehicular flight under Indiana law is not a crime of violence. He also argues that he should be resentenced using the new crack-topowder ratio prescribed by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (“the FSA”), Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372.

We affirm. Griffin was not “seized” for Fourth Amendment purposes when he discarded the crack in the parking lot during the low-speed police chase, so the drug evidence was properly admitted at trial. Griffin’s sentencing challenges are foreclosed by our precedent and by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Sykes, 131 S. Ct. 2267 (2011).

In Continental Casualty v. Sycamore Springs Howowners Assoc. (SD Ind., McKinney), a 6-page opinion, Chief Judge Easterbrook begins:
A residential developer built a new subdivision of Indianapolis in the floodplain of the White River. Both the developer and the buyers (who have organized as Sycamore Springs Homeowners Association) knew that the land is low-lying and prone to flooding. Sheehan, the developer, constructed levees and floodwalls to protect the houses; it also built retention ponds and a stormwater holding system. The Courtyard Homes at Sycamore Springs, LLC, handled the construction and sale of buildings in the subdivision’s Parcel D. Courtyard had Sheehan fill one of the retention ponds, so that it could build additional homes; it also constructed duplexes where Sheehan had planned singlefamily housing. The result was a reduction in Parcel D’s ability to absorb rainwater (more of the ground was covered with concrete) and greater demands on the stormwater system. On September 1, 2003, heavy rains fell in Indianapolis, and several homes in the subdivision were inundated when a retention pond overflowed.
What follows in an interesting insurance opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 22, 2011 02:32 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions