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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides two today, re search & seizure

In Mary Osborne v. State of Indiana, an 8-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Massa writes:

Mary Osborne filed this interlocutory appeal following the trial court’s denial of her motion to suppress, on the grounds that the traffic stop giving rise to the charges was not permissible under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Although we believe the officer’s actions in this case were prompted by a genuine desire to serve and protect, we hold that, under the circumstances, those actions constituted an improper intrusion upon Osborne’s constitutional privileges against unreasonable search and seizure. Accordingly, we reverse. * * *

a warrantless search or seizure is per se unreasonable, and the State bears the burden to show that one of the “well-delineated exceptions” to the warrant requirement applies. [cites omitted]

The United State Supreme Court has identified one such exception relevant to this matter: that the officer had “an objectively reasonable basis for believing that medical assistance was needed, or persons were in danger.” [cites omitted] * * *

Turning to the instant matter, Officer Arnold responded to a report that a woman was trapped under her car, which undoubtedly could give rise to a reasonable concern that emergency medical assistance was needed, prompting further investigation, as in both Bruce and Trotter. However, the actual facts he subsequently confronted did not objectively support that concern: Officer Arnold learned that Osborne had freed herself prior to his arrival at the gas station, Osborne operated her vehicle normally, and Officer Arnold witnessed no traffic infractions or criminal conduct.

In Eduardo Cruz-Salazar v. State of Indiana, a 4-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Massa writes:
Eduardo Cruz-Salazar appeals his conviction for Class A misdemeanor possession of cocaine, claiming the warrantless search which led to the discovery of the drugs was improper under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. In this companion decision, issued today with Osborne v. State, No. 29S02- 1608-CR-433, -- N.E.3d -- (Ind. Nov. 29. 2016), we find Cruz-Salazar’s search permissible, and affirm. * * *

In Osborne v. State, No. 29S02-1608-CR-433, -- N.E.3d -- (Ind. Nov. 29. 2016), also issued today, we described in detail the relevant Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11 concerns, and thus we proceed directly to their application here. Police received a report of a stationary vehicle that had been running for 30 minutes, in the early hours of a cold December morning. This alone is sufficiently unusual to merit further investigation, as it could be an indicator of distress. Police arrived on scene to find the situation as reported, and indeed worse: Cruz-Salazar was at the wheel of the vehicle, and was not responsive when Officer Ayler both shined his flashlight through the windows or when he tapped on the window. At this point, the officer had an objectively reasonable basis to open the door and check on Cruz-Salazar’s well-being. See Michigan v. Fisher, 558 U.S. 45, 49 (2009) (holding the Fourth Amendment permits warrantless search and seizure if police had “an objectively reasonable basis for believing that medical assistance was needed, or persons were in danger.”) Accordingly, we find the warrantless entry into Cruz-Salazar’s vehicle permissible under the Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 29, 2016 01:37 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions