Robinson v. State, No. 20A04–1209–CR–561.

Docket NºNo. 20A04–1209–CR–561.
Citation985 N.E.2d 1141
Case DateApril 23, 2013
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

985 N.E.2d 1141

Joanna S. ROBINSON, Appellant–Defendant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee–Plaintiff.

No. 20A04–1209–CR–561.

Court of Appeals of Indiana.

April 23, 2013.


[985 N.E.2d 1142]


Peter D. Todd, Elkhart, IN, Attorney for Appellant.

Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General of Indiana, James B. Martin, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, IN, Attorneys for Appellee.


OPINION

CRONE, Judge.
Case Summary

A sheriff's deputy observed Joanna S. Robinson briefly drive onto the fog line twice. The deputy decided to stop Robinson for “unsafe lane movement.” Tr. at 24. Based on evidence obtained from this stop, Robinson was convicted of operating while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. On appeal, Robinson challenges the admission of the evidence obtained from the stop, which she had sought unsuccessfully to exclude from trial on the basis that the traffic stop was not supported by reasonable suspicion. The State argues that the deputy had reasonable suspicion that she was impaired. We conclude

[985 N.E.2d 1143]

that Robinson's brief contact with the fog line—at night on a road with some curves—was not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion that Robinson was impaired. Therefore, the evidence obtained from the stop should not have been admitted, and Robinson's convictions must be reversed.

Facts and Procedural History

Casey Claeys, a deputy with the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department, worked third shift on October 15, 2011. Around 1:00 a.m., he began following a PT Cruiser on County Road 4. According to Deputy Claeys, he saw “the PT Cruiser drive off the right side, which was the south side of the road, twice.” Id. Deputy Claeys decided to initiate a traffic stop for “unsafe lane movement.” Id.

Robinson was driving the PT Cruiser. Deputy Claeys noticed that she had glossy, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and the odor of alcohol on her breath. Robinson admitted to having drunk one beer, and she failed three field sobriety tests. Without being prompted, Robinson told Deputy Claeys that she had marijuana in her bra, which she shook out onto the roadway. Deputy Claeys transported Robinson to the jail, where a certified breath test was administered. The test indicated that Robinson had .09 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

Robinson was charged with operating a vehicle with a suspended license, a class A misdemeanor; possession of marijuana, a class A misdemeanor; operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a class A misdemeanor; and operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration of at least .08 grams per 210 liters of breath, a class C misdemeanor. Robinson filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from the traffic stop. The motion asserted that the video from Deputy Claeys's vehicle showed that she stayed within her lane and that he therefore lacked reasonable suspicion to conduct a traffic stop.

On July 6, 2012, the trial court held a combined bench trial and hearing on the motion to suppress. Deputy Claeys was the only witness. Deputy Claeys testified that the road had a center line and a white fog line along the outer edge of the road. He asserted that both of the passenger-side tires of Robinson's vehicle “were over the fog line ... [c]ompletely off the roadway.” Id. at 48. Deputy Claeys acknowledged that Robinson “immediately” returned to her lane each time. Id. at 51. Robinson's driving record, the breath test results, and the video from Deputy Claeys's vehicle were also admitted into evidence. The court took the matter under advisement.

On July 23, 2012, the trial court issued a written order denying Robinson's motion to suppress and entering judgment on two of the charges. The court indicated that it had viewed the video several times and could not “conclude from the video that the defendant's vehicle actually left the roadway.” Appellant's App. at 33. However, the court found that the video “does show the vehicle veering on two occasions onto the white fog line.” Id. The court concluded that swerving onto the fog line twice was sufficient to justify a brief investigatory stop.

The court concluded that, based on contradictory information in Robinson's driving record, the State had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that her license was suspended at the time of the traffic stop. The court found Robinson guilty of the remaining charges, but did not enter judgment on the class C misdemeanor driving offense. Robinson now appeals.

Discussion and Decision

Robinson argues that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress and admitting the evidence obtained

[985 N.E.2d 1144]

from the traffic stop. Robinson does not specify whether she is challenging the stop based on the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. However, she asserts that the “central issue in this case hinges on the Terry doctrine.” Appellant's Br. at 2 (citing Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1968)). We understand this to be an invocation of the Fourth Amendment. See Joseph v. State, 975 N.E.2d 420, 424 n. 6 (Ind.Ct.App.2012) (stating that any claim under Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution was waived for failure to make a separate argument pursuant to that provision).

Because Robinson is appealing following a completed trial, the issue before us is “properly framed as whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting the challenged evidence at trial.” Lindsey v. State, 916 N.E.2d 230, 238 (Ind.Ct.App.2009), trans. denied, (2010).

Our standard of review of a trial court's determination as to the admissibility of evidence is for an abuse of discretion. Smith v. State, 754 N.E.2d 502, 504 (Ind.2001). We will reverse only if a trial court's decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances. Id. We will not reweigh the evidence, and we consider any conflicting evidence in favor of the trial court's ruling. Collins [ v. State, 822 N.E.2d 214, 218 (Ind.Ct.App.2005), trans. denied ) ]. However, we must also consider the uncontested evidence favorable to the defendant. Id. Although a trial court's determination of historical facts is entitled to deferential review, we employ a de novo standard when reviewing the trial court's ultimate determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Myers v. State, 839 N.E.2d 1146, 1150 (Ind.2005) (citing Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 695–99, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996)).

Id. (footnote omitted).


“An investigatory stop is permissible under the Fourth Amendment if supported by reasonable suspicion.” Ornelas, 517 U.S. at 693, 116 S.Ct. 1657.

Reasonable suspicion is a “somewhat abstract” concept, not readily reduced to “a neat set of legal rules.” [United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 274, 122 S.Ct. 744, 151 L.Ed.2d 740 (2002) ]. When making a reasonable suspicion determination, reviewing courts examine the “totality of the circumstances” of the case to see whether the detaining officer had a “particularized and objective basis” for suspecting legal wrongdoing. Id. at 273, 122 S.Ct. [at 750]. The reasonable suspicion requirement is met where the facts known to the officer at the moment of the stop, together with the reasonable inferences arising from such facts, would cause an ordinarily prudent person to believe criminal activity has occurred or is about to occur. Francis v. State, 764 N.E.2d 641, 644 (Ind.Ct.App.2002).

Moultry v. State, 808 N.E.2d 168, 171 (Ind.Ct.App.2004). The State bears the burden of proving that an investigatory stop was not violative of the constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. State v. Smith, 638 N.E.2d 1353, 1355 (Ind.Ct.App.1994). When an investigatory stop is not supported by reasonable suspicion, the evidence collected as a result is excluded from trial pursuant to the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. Sanchez v. State, 803 N.E.2d 215, 223 (Ind.Ct.App.2004) (citing Wong Sun v. United States, 371 U.S. 471, 487–88, 83 S.Ct. 407, 9 L.Ed.2d 441 (...

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4 practice notes
  • Robinson v. State, No. 20S04–1307–CR–471.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 25, 2014
    ...court wrongly denied her motion to suppress. A panel of our Court of Appeals agreed and reversed her conviction. Robinson v. State, 985 N.E.2d 1141, 1148 (Ind.Ct.App.2013). We granted transfer, thereby vacating the opinion below. Robinson v. State, 990 N.E.2d 945 (Ind.2013) (table); Ind. Ap......
  • Atkinson v. State, No. 12A02–1302–CR–149.
    • United States
    • August 13, 2013
    ...contact with the fog line or swerving within a lane ordinarily is not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion of impaired driving.” 985 N.E.2d 1141, 1146 (Ind.Ct.App.2013), trans. granted. Notably, in Robinson, we refrained from drawing a bright-line rule with respect to whether swervi......
  • Robinson v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • July 11, 2013
    ...N.E.2d 945Joanna S. Robinsonv.State of IndianaSupreme Court of IndianaJuly 11, 2013 985 N.E.2d 1141 Transfer...
  • Sparks v. State, No. 49A02–1207–CR–593.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • April 23, 2013
    ...grant the petition for rehearing for the sole purpose of clarifying what is required on remand, but affirm our opinion in all respects.1 [985 N.E.2d 1141] The State's petition reiterates its original argument that an evidentiary hearing was not required because Sparks admitted to the probat......
4 cases
  • Robinson v. State, No. 20S04–1307–CR–471.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • March 25, 2014
    ...court wrongly denied her motion to suppress. A panel of our Court of Appeals agreed and reversed her conviction. Robinson v. State, 985 N.E.2d 1141, 1148 (Ind.Ct.App.2013). We granted transfer, thereby vacating the opinion below. Robinson v. State, 990 N.E.2d 945 (Ind.2013) (table); Ind. Ap......
  • Atkinson v. State, No. 12A02–1302–CR–149.
    • United States
    • August 13, 2013
    ...contact with the fog line or swerving within a lane ordinarily is not sufficient to establish reasonable suspicion of impaired driving.” 985 N.E.2d 1141, 1146 (Ind.Ct.App.2013), trans. granted. Notably, in Robinson, we refrained from drawing a bright-line rule with respect to whether swervi......
  • Robinson v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • July 11, 2013
    ...N.E.2d 945Joanna S. Robinsonv.State of IndianaSupreme Court of IndianaJuly 11, 2013 985 N.E.2d 1141 Transfer...
  • Sparks v. State, No. 49A02–1207–CR–593.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • April 23, 2013
    ...grant the petition for rehearing for the sole purpose of clarifying what is required on remand, but affirm our opinion in all respects.1 [985 N.E.2d 1141] The State's petition reiterates its original argument that an evidentiary hearing was not required because Sparks admitted to the probat......

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