Holder v. State, No. 87S05-0505-CR-194.

Docket NºNo. 87S05-0505-CR-194.
Citation847 N.E.2d 930
Case DateMay 18, 2006
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

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847 N.E.2d 930
Scott S. HOLDER, Appellant (Defendant below),
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff below).
No. 87S05-0505-CR-194.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
May 18, 2006.

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Frank R. Hahn, Law Office of John Burley Scales, Boonville, for Appellant.

Steve Carter, Attorney General of Indiana, Jodi Kathryn Stein, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

On Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 87A05-0402-CR-94.

DICKSON, Justice.


In this interlocutory appeal, the defendant, Scott S. Holder, challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence of a methamphetamine laboratory, finished methamphetamine product, and reagents and precursors of the drug found in his home and on his person on January 14, 2003. He was charged with four counts related to the manufacture and possession of the drug and paraphernalia, one count of maintaining a common nuisance, and one count of neglect of a dependent. The Court of Appeals reversed. Holder v. State, 824 N.E.2d 364 (Ind.Ct. App.2005). We granted transfer, Holder v. State, 831 N.E.2d 745 (Ind.2005), and we now affirm the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress.

The defendant asserts that the evidence should be suppressed because it violated the unreasonable search and seizure provisions in Article 1, § 11, of the Indiana Constitution, and the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. The defendant challenges two specific acts by the police. First, the defendant seeks suppression of the evidence discovered after police came upon his residential property without a warrant and sniffed at his basement window to find the source of an odor of ether they had detected in the neighborhood.1 Second, the defendant argues that evidence must be suppressed where, subsequent to the sniff and in spite of the defendant's refusal of consent to entry into his home, the police entered without a warrant and in the absence of exigent circumstances or other justification.

The defendant's arrest resulted from the work of officers from the Boonville, Indiana, Police Department on January 14, 2003. At the suppression hearing, Officer Jonathan Bruner testified that he was patrolling the city in his squad car when he detected the strong odor of ether in the air. For about fifteen minutes, he drove up and down the streets of the nearby two- or three-block area in an effort to find the source of the odor and then returned to the point where he first detected the scent. Believing that he had discovered the possible area from which the odor was being radiated, Officer Bruner called Lieutenant

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Mark Hadley, who arrived on the scene shortly thereafter accompanied by Boonville Police Chief Joe Harmon. The additional two officers also believed that they smelled ether in the air, and they joined Officer Bruner in a walk through the neighborhood. They began walking behind two residences on the defendant's street and determined after a brief period that the odor appeared to be near the defendant's house. The point where Officer Bruner first smelled ether was approximately one hundred yards and downwind from the defendant's house.

Officer Bruner could smell a strong odor of the chemical as he approached the house, and he and the other officers also spotted a pickup truck behind it parked on a concrete slab with the hood up. Officer Bruner explained that the truck was parked behind the defendant's house and to the east and that he believed a driveway ran from the slab along the south side of the house to the street.2 The officers suspected that open containers of starting fluid, a product consisting largely of ether, could be near the truck, but upon inspection, they found none. Ruling out the truck, but still noticing the strong odor as the officers approached the defendant's home, Officer Bruner checked around the defendant's property, eventually sniffing near a cracked basement window on the side of the house, where he detected a very strong odor of ether emanating from it.

Chief Harmon then knocked on the front door, but there was no answer. He went to the back door and knocked, and the defendant peeked through the window, waited about ten seconds, and opened the door, resulting in a rush of ether fumes outside. He stepped outside and closed the door behind him. The officers informed the defendant that they had detected a strong odor of ether coming from his house. The defendant denied smelling anything but volunteered that he had been charged with manufacturing methamphetamine in an adjacent county. The officers requested the defendant's consent to search the house, but the defendant refused and told them to get a warrant. Lieutenant Hadley then placed a call to get a warrant started, and the other officers continued further discussion with the defendant. In response to the officers' advice that the defendant stay outside with them while they waited for the warrant, the defendant informed them that his infant granddaughter and two adults were in the house, whereupon the police entered the home without the warrant. Based upon the officers' initial observations, a warrant was eventually obtained by the Warrick County Police Department, and their resulting search disclosed a methamphetamine

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lab, precursors, finished methamphetamine, and drug paraphernalia.

We review the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress based upon a standard similar to that employed for other sufficiency of evidence considerations. The Court will consider the evidence favorable to the trial court's ruling, as well as substantial uncontradicted evidence to the contrary, to decide whether the evidence is sufficient to support the ruling. Murphy v. State, 747 N.E.2d 557, 559 (Ind.2001); Ogle v. State, 698 N.E.2d 1146, 1148-49 (Ind.1998).

The federal Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11, of the Indiana Constitution protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures.3 In spite of the similarity in structure of the federal and state constitutional provisions, interpretations and applications vary between them. State v. Bulington, 802 N.E.2d 435, 438 (Ind.2004); State v. Gerschoffer, 763 N.E.2d 960, 963 (Ind.2002); Baldwin v. Reagan, 715 N.E.2d 332, 337 (Ind.1999); Brown v. State, 653 N.E.2d 77, 78, 79 (Ind.1995). "The Indiana Constitution has unique vitality, even where its words parallel federal language." Gerschoffer, 763 N.E.2d at 965 (citing Ajabu v. State, 693 N.E.2d 921, 929 (Ind.1998)). When we interpret language in our state constitution substantially identical to its federal counterpart, "we may part company with the interpretation of the Supreme Court of the United States or any other court based on the text, history, and decisional law elaborating the Indiana constitutional right." Ajabu, 693 N.E.2d at 929. Based on this principle and that the defendant has alleged both federal and state constitutional violations and supported the allegations with separate analyses, we engage in independent examinations of the defendant's claims based upon Section 11 and the Fourth Amendment.

Fourth Amendment

The defendant first contends that when the police went to his basement window to sniff for ether, they invaded the curtilage of his home without a warrant, thereby conducting a search prohibited by the Fourth Amendment. Without such an invasion, the defendant maintains, the police would not have been able to pinpoint his home as the source of the smell of ether wafting in the air of his neighborhood.

Searches performed by government officials without warrants are per se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, subject to a "few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions." Katz v. U.S., 389 U.S. 347, 357, 88 S.Ct. 507, 514, 19 L.Ed.2d 576, 585 (1967). A search without a warrant requires the State to prove an exception to the warrant requirement applicable at the time of the search. White v. State, 772 N.E.2d 408, 411 (Ind.2002).

To trigger Fourth Amendment protections, a search arises out of an intrusion by a government actor upon an area in which a person maintains a "reasonable expectation of privacy." Katz, 389 U.S. at 360, 88 S.Ct. at 516, 19 L.Ed.2d at 587 (Harlan, J., concurring). Therefore, whether Fourth Amendment protections

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should be applied embraces a two-part inquiry: (1) whether a person has "exhibited an actual (subjective) expectation of privacy;" and (2) whether "the expectation [is] one that society is prepared to recognize as `reasonable.'" Id. at 361, 88 S.Ct. at 516, 19 L.Ed.2d at 588. "Thus a man's home is, for most purposes, a place where he expects privacy, but objects, activities, or statements that he exposes to the `plain view' of outsiders are not `protected' because no intention to keep them to himself has been exhibited." Id.

The land immediately surrounding and associated with a home, the curtilage, also merits the Fourth Amendment protections that attach to the home. Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170, 180, 104 S.Ct. 1735, 1742, 80 L.Ed.2d 214, 225 (1984). The curtilage is defined on a case-by-case basis by reference to factors that determine whether a person's expectation of privacy in the area adjacent to the home is reasonable and analysis whether the area embraces the intimacy associated with the sanctity of the home and privacies of life. Id.; United States v. Dunn, 480 U.S. 294, 300, 107 S.Ct. 1134, 1139, 94 L.Ed.2d 326, 334 (1987). Thus defining the curtilage requires more than an identification of the physical area immediately adjacent to the home; whether the area is enclosed, how it is being used, and the steps taken to keep it out of view are also analyzed to determine whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the area, demonstrating that it embraces the characteristics similar to those associated with the sanctity...

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143 practice notes
  • Combs v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-616
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 3, 2021
    ...it from public view. United States v. Dunn , 480 U.S. 294, 301, 107 S.Ct. 1134, 94 L.Ed.2d 326 (1987) ; see also Holder v. State , 847 N.E.2d 930, 936 (Ind. 2006) (acknowledging and applying the Dunn factors). The first heavily weighs in favor of curtilage, as the front driveway is attached......
  • Clark v. State, No. 20S05–1301–CR–10.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • September 17, 2013
    ...of Review We review the denial of a motion to suppress in a manner similar to reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence. Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 935 (Ind.2006). We consider only the evidence favorable to the trial court's ruling, alongside substantial uncontradicted evidence to the......
  • Garcia–torres v. State , No. 64S03–0912–CR–550.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 30, 2011
    ...se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, subject to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.” Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 940 (Ind.2006) (emphasis added) (internal quotations omitted). Certainly, Hoosiers are entitled to no less protection under Article 1, Sect......
  • Belvedere v. State, No. 48A05-0611-CR-669.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • October 23, 2007
    ...without discussion of retroactivity, applied Litchfield to cases not yet final when Litchfield was decided. See, e.g., Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 940-41 (Ind.2006) (holding, without discussion of retroactivity, that a warrantless search of defendant's property on January 14, 2003, did......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
145 cases
  • Combs v. State, Supreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-616
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 3, 2021
    ...it from public view. United States v. Dunn , 480 U.S. 294, 301, 107 S.Ct. 1134, 94 L.Ed.2d 326 (1987) ; see also Holder v. State , 847 N.E.2d 930, 936 (Ind. 2006) (acknowledging and applying the Dunn factors). The first heavily weighs in favor of curtilage, as the front driveway is attached......
  • Clark v. State, No. 20S05–1301–CR–10.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • September 17, 2013
    ...of Review We review the denial of a motion to suppress in a manner similar to reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence. Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 935 (Ind.2006). We consider only the evidence favorable to the trial court's ruling, alongside substantial uncontradicted evidence to the......
  • Garcia–torres v. State , No. 64S03–0912–CR–550.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 30, 2011
    ...se unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, subject to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions.” Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 940 (Ind.2006) (emphasis added) (internal quotations omitted). Certainly, Hoosiers are entitled to no less protection under Article 1, Sect......
  • Belvedere v. State, No. 48A05-0611-CR-669.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • October 23, 2007
    ...without discussion of retroactivity, applied Litchfield to cases not yet final when Litchfield was decided. See, e.g., Holder v. State, 847 N.E.2d 930, 940-41 (Ind.2006) (holding, without discussion of retroactivity, that a warrantless search of defendant's property on January 14, 2003, did......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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