Austin v. State, No. 20S03–1303–CR–158.

Docket NºNo. 20S03–1303–CR–158.
Citation997 N.E.2d 1027
Case DateNovember 15, 2013
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

997 N.E.2d 1027

Patrick AUSTIN, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).

No. 20S03–1303–CR–158.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

Nov. 15, 2013.


[997 N.E.2d 1031]


Latasha R. Roberts, Adam Lenkowsky, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellant.

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, Ryan D. Johanningsmeier, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.


On Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 20A03–1112–CR–588.

DAVID, Justice.

Today we examine the bounds of acceptable police procedure in attempting to interdict interstate narcotics shipments under the Indiana Constitution, and also elaborate on the application of Indiana's Rules of Criminal Procedure providing for a speedy trial.

In this case, a truck driver was arrested after a deliberate operation conducted by the Indiana State Police uncovered a large quantity of cocaine in the truck driver's cargo. He requested a speedy trial, and

[997 N.E.2d 1032]

when the trial court was unable to bring him to trial within the time limit because of court congestion he sought to be discharged from pre-trial incarceration. We find no error in the police action or in the continuance of the defendant's trial, and therefore affirm the trial court.

Facts and Procedural History

On April 28, 2011, Indiana State Trooper Joseph White was patrolling the Indiana State Toll Road in Porter County when he observed a semi-truck, driven by Patrick Austin, towing a trailer that Trooper White believed would normally be towed by a pickup truck. Concerned by the configuration, Trooper White initiated a traffic stop to perform an inspection of Austin's truck and credentials.1

Austin produced his driver's license, medical card, shipping papers, logbook, and permits for the truck and trailer. Upon inspecting the materials, Trooper White noted that Austin's logbook indicated he had been off work for seven days prior to beginning his current assignment and also that his destination was in Illinois but he was travelling east through Indiana. Additionally, Austin's logbook and bills of lading indicated that he had begun his trip in California, carrying three vehicles—a Ford Mustang, a Rolls–Royce, and a Mercedes Benz—but the shipping papers were incomplete, with incomplete shipper names and blanks for the dates on which he had picked up his cargo. And when Trooper White questioned Austin about the blank pick-up dates, Austin filled the blanks in with dates in the future. Trooper White then asked Austin where he was going, and Austin indicated that he was going to a trailer parts store in Elkhart, Indiana, but did not know the name or address of the store nor was the store noted as a destination in Austin's logbook or bills of lading.

These collective discrepancies caused Trooper White some concern, based on his training in commercial vehicle interdiction. He then contacted the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC), a national intelligence center run by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks data on narcotics trafficking, and ran Austin's name through the EPIC system. EPIC informed Trooper White that in 2009, Austin had been involved in a bulk-cash seizure of a million dollars in Michigan, in which he was pulling the same trailer with the same semi-truck. Trooper White asked Austin for consent to search the semi-truck and trailer, and Austin refused. Trooper White then told Austin that he was free to leave and Austin continued east. The total stop took around forty-five minutes.

Trooper White relayed his concerns about Austin to Detective John Dupont of the Indiana State Police and then headed west to complete paperwork and finish his shift. Dupont called Indiana State Trooper Mick Dockery, a senior canine handler and Level III inspector, and asked him to wait for Austin farther east on the Toll Road. With Trooper Dockery at the time was his canine partner, Hondo.

Additional surveillance officers were following Austin from the first traffic stop and relaying updates to Trooper Dockery. When those surveillance officers told Trooper Dockery that Austin was moving past his location, Trooper Dockery pulled onto the Toll Road and began following Austin's vehicle. He observed Austin commit two traffic violations—failing to signal for a full three hundred feet before changing lanes and following too closely—and initiated a traffic stop.

[997 N.E.2d 1033]

Trooper Dockery inspected Austin's logbook and bills of lading. He noted that Trooper White's traffic stop was not logged in the logbook. He also noted the seven-day absence from work prior to Austin beginning his trip, that the bills of lading were handwritten and indicated pick-up dates in the future, and that Austin's Department of Transportation number was very high.2 Based on those concerns and the information he had received earlier, Trooper Dockery asked Austin to exit his vehicle so he could perform an exterior search of the truck and trailer using his canine. Hondo alerted to the driver's side door of the truck cab and the rear door of the trailer, indicating the presence of narcotics.

Trooper Dockery then opened the rear gate of the trailer and deployed Hondo inside, where the Mercedes Benz and Rolls–Royce vehicles were stored. Hondo alerted at the rear bumper of the Rolls–Royce.3 Trooper Dockery and other officers on-scene then obtained a search warrant to search the semi-truck, trailer, and the two cars inside. Inside the truck cab and its sleeper berth, officers found a number of latex gloves, hotel room keycards, and about a half-dozen air fresheners. No narcotics were found inside the cab or sleeper berth, but in the trunk of the Mercedes—inside a hidden compartment—were twenty-nine bricks of cocaine. An additional eleven bricks of cocaine were found in a suitcase inside the Rolls–Royce. The aggregate amount was forty kilos, or roughly ninety pounds, of cocaine. Austin was charged with two counts of dealing in cocaine, both as class A felonies due to the amount of cocaine involved. Ind.Code § 35–48–4–1(a)(2)(c)–1(b)(1) (2008).

On June 6, 2011, Austin filed a request for a speedy trial and the trial court scheduled Austin's case for an August 8 trial date. The State later filed a motion to continue Austin's trial because of court congestion. Over Austin's objection, the trial court granted the State's motion and reset Austin's trial for September 26. Austin then filed a motion for discharge pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 4(B), which the trial court denied.

Austin also moved to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop, arguing that it was obtained in violation of both the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions. The trial court denied his motion to suppress, concluding that Trooper Dockery's stop was a separate and distinct stop from Trooper White's, was lawful because it resulted from two traffic violations, and that the subsequent canine sweep did not change the character of that stop. Austin properly renewed his objection at trial when the evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop was admitted. Ultimately, Austin was convicted on both counts and received a forty-year sentence for each, to be served concurrently.

Austin appealed on a number of fronts.4 The Court of Appeals affirmed.

[997 N.E.2d 1034]

Austin v. State, 980 N.E.2d 429 (Ind.Ct.App.2012). We granted transfer to address the police actions leading to the discovery of the cocaine in Austin's trailer and the application of Criminal Rule 4(B), and summarily affirm the Court of Appeals in all other respects. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(2).

I. The Search of Austin's Vehicle

On appeal, Austin appears to have dropped his argument that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated and presents only a violation of Article 1, § 11 of the Indiana Constitution. While both provisions preserve the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, from unreasonable search and seizure, U.S. Const. amend. IV; Ind. Const. art. 1, § 11, they are analyzed independently and differently. Duran v. State, 930 N.E.2d 10, 17 (Ind.2010); Mitchell v. State, 745 N.E.2d 775, 785–86 (Ind.2001).

Fourth Amendment analysis keys on a criminal defendant's expectation of privacy, but under Article 1, § 11 of the Indiana Constitution “ ‘we focus on the actions of the police officer,’ and employ a totality-of-the-circumstances test to evaluate the reasonableness of the officer's actions.” Duran, 930 N.E.2d at 17 (quoting Trimble v. State, 842 N.E.2d 798, 803 (Ind.2006)). In doing so we balance “1) the degree of concern, suspicion, or knowledge that a violation has occurred, 2) the degree of intrusion the method of the search or seizure imposes on the citizen's ordinary activities, and 3) the extent of law enforcement needs.” Id. at 17–18 (quoting Litchfield v. State, 824 N.E.2d 356, 361 (Ind.2005)). It is the State's burden to show that its intrusion into “those areas of life that Hoosiers regard as private” was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances. State v. Quirk, 842 N.E.2d 334, 339–40 (Ind.2006).

It is unequivocal under our jurisprudence that even a minor traffic violation is sufficient to give an officer probable cause to stop the driver of a vehicle. Quirk, 842 N.E.2d at 340. Moreover, Austin concedes that a reasonable narcotics dog sweep is not a search for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment or Article 1, § 11. See Wilson v. State, 847 N.E.2d 1064, 1067 (Ind.Ct.App.2006) (citing Myers v. State, 839 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind.2005)). However, such a sweep is an unreasonable investigatory detention if the motorist is held for longer than necessary to complete the officer's work related to the traffic violation and the officer lacks reasonable suspicion that the motorist is engaged in criminal activity. See Quirk, 842 N.E.2d at 340;Mitchell, 745 N.E.2d at 788.

Austin does not contest that he failed to properly signal a lane change and followed a vehicle too closely. He therefore...

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  • Zanders v. State, No. 15S01-1611-CR-571
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 4 Maggio 2017
    ...the Fourth Amendment—which requires a distinct inquiry. Carpenter v. State , 18 N.E.3d 998, 1001 (Ind. 2014) (citing Austin v. State , 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1034 (Ind. 2013) ). Looking again narrowly to the facts before us, we find no Section 11 violation.1. Because Article 1, Section 11 looks t......
  • Watson v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-64
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 21 Ottobre 2020
    ...In evaluating Watson's speedy trial claims, we review factual findings for clear error and questions of law de novo. Austin v. State , 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1040 & n.10 (Ind. 2013) ; State v. Azania , 865 N.E.2d 994, 1002 (Ind. 2007), clarified on reh'g on other grounds , 875 N.E.2d 701.Discussi......
  • Hardin v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-418
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 23 Giugno 2020
    ...was reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances. Robinson v. State , 5 N.E.3d 362, 368 (Ind. 2014). See also Austin v. State , 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1034 (Ind. 2013) (quoting Duran v. State , 930 N.E.2d 10, 17 (Ind. 2010) ) (" ‘[W]e focus on the actions of the police officer,’ and empl......
  • C.H. v. State, No. 49A02–1310–JV–904.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 29 Agosto 2014
    ...into ‘those areas of life that Hoosiers regard as private’ was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances." Austin v. State, 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1034 (Ind.2013) (quoting State v. Quirk, 842 N.E.2d 334, 340 (Ind.2006) ). Balancing the three Litchfield factors, we conclude that Officer B......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
119 cases
  • Zanders v. State, No. 15S01-1611-CR-571
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 4 Maggio 2017
    ...the Fourth Amendment—which requires a distinct inquiry. Carpenter v. State , 18 N.E.3d 998, 1001 (Ind. 2014) (citing Austin v. State , 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1034 (Ind. 2013) ). Looking again narrowly to the facts before us, we find no Section 11 violation.1. Because Article 1, Section 11 looks t......
  • Watson v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-64
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 21 Ottobre 2020
    ...In evaluating Watson's speedy trial claims, we review factual findings for clear error and questions of law de novo. Austin v. State , 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1040 & n.10 (Ind. 2013) ; State v. Azania , 865 N.E.2d 994, 1002 (Ind. 2007), clarified on reh'g on other grounds , 875 N.E.2d 701.Discussi......
  • Hardin v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-418
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 23 Giugno 2020
    ...was reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances. Robinson v. State , 5 N.E.3d 362, 368 (Ind. 2014). See also Austin v. State , 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1034 (Ind. 2013) (quoting Duran v. State , 930 N.E.2d 10, 17 (Ind. 2010) ) (" ‘[W]e focus on the actions of the police officer,’ and empl......
  • C.H. v. State, No. 49A02–1310–JV–904.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 29 Agosto 2014
    ...into ‘those areas of life that Hoosiers regard as private’ was reasonable under the totality of the circumstances." Austin v. State, 997 N.E.2d 1027, 1034 (Ind.2013) (quoting State v. Quirk, 842 N.E.2d 334, 340 (Ind.2006) ). Balancing the three Litchfield factors, we conclude that Officer B......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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