State v. Ryder

Decision Date29 June 2020
Docket NumberSupreme Court Case No. 20S-CR-435
Citation148 N.E.3d 306
Parties STATE of Indiana, Appellant (Plaintiff) v. Wesley RYDER, Appellee (Defendant)
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Curtis T. Hill, Jr., Attorney General of Indiana, Angela N. Sanchez, Assistant Section Chief, Criminal Appeals, Indianapolis, Indiana, Stephen R. Creason, Chief Counsel, Appeals Division, Indianapolis, Indiana

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: John D. Fierek, Fierek Legal Group, Brownsburg, Indiana

Massa, Justice.

Wesley Ryder, an off-duty police trainee, caused a head-on collision when he drove the wrong way on an Indianapolis freeway. Ryder—who has been charged with various felonies and misdemeanors for operating while intoxicated—now seeks the suppression of blood test results obtained the morning of the accident. He argues that both an Indiana statute and his constitutional rights were violated when the arresting state trooper failed to properly file a probable cause affidavit to obtain a blood-draw search warrant. The trial court agreed and suppressed the blood test results, finding that a copy of the probable cause affidavit was not properly filed until a few hours after it had been presented to the warrant-authorizing judge and quickly executed.

Today, we reverse the suppression of the blood test and remand for two reasons. First, we hold that the warrant-authorizing judge certified contemporaneously, and in writing, that the probable cause affidavit had been properly filed with her when the search warrant was issued. Second, we hold that even if the affidavit was filed a few hours after it was presented to the authorizing judge—as the trial court found—it was still valid under Indiana's substantial compliance filing doctrine and suppression of evidence obtained from the search warrant is not justified.

Facts and Procedural History

Wesley Ryder, an off-duty Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department trainee, drove the wrong way on I-465, causing a head-on collision around 4:30 a.m. on June 4, 2015. Indiana State Trooper Robert Augst, who was dispatched to the accident scene, immediately smelled alcohol on Ryder and observed "bloodshot glassy eyes" and "slurred speech." Tr., p.9. Although the "confused" Ryder could not remember "how he came to be going southbound in a northbound lane," he agreed to take a standard field sobriety test, which he failed. Id. After he refused an offered breathalyzer test, Ryder was arrested and transported to the Marion County Arrestee Processing Center so Trooper Augst could obtain a search warrant for a blood draw.

Although a judge was usually on call overnight at the processing center, inexplicably none were available that morning. As time was of the essence, Trooper Augst called Marion County Superior Court Judge Barbara Crawford, who agreed to meet him at a Speedway gas station along the freeway to consider his search warrant request. Before leaving the processing center, Trooper Augst worked with a prosecutor to prepare his probable cause affidavit and proposed warrant. An employee of the Marion County Clerk's office made an entry in the recording system creating a cause number around 7:15 a.m., and the cause number was included in the affidavit presented to Judge Crawford. The parties dispute whether Trooper Augst left a copy of the probable cause affidavit and warrant with the Clerk before heading out to meet Judge Crawford.

After arriving at the gas station parking lot, Judge Crawford reviewed the affidavit and approved the search warrant at 7:44 a.m. On a separate page, Judge Crawford certified that "A copy of the probable cause affidavit and search warrant has been filed with the signing judge on this date of June 4th[,] 2015," with the date at the end of the statement handwritten. Appellee's Ex., p.8 (emphasis added) (capitalization omitted). With a signed copy of the warrant in hand, Trooper Augst transported Ryder to Eskenazi Hospital where a blood draw was taken. The hospital retained a copy of the probable cause affidavit and warrant for its own records. On the hospital's copy of the affidavit, a handwritten note was added indicating that the blood draw was taken at "8:12" a.m. Id. , p.6. The results of this blood draw—taken nearly four hours after the accident—revealed that Ryder had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.11%.

After the blood draw, Trooper Augst returned to the county processing center and deposited the warrant and probable cause affidavit in a drop-box for the court clerk. According to the clerk's electronic docket entry, the warrant and affidavit were physically file-stamped and entered into the record at 11:17 a.m.1 Although the clerk's office still used paper records at the time, and a copy of the filed affidavit should have been kept by the clerk, the official stamped copy of these documents was lost by the clerk's office after it moved locations and transitioned to electronic filing. While the State later obtained the copy of the documents kept by the Hospital, this copy does not bear the clerk's file-marks from June 4, 2015. The State charged Ryder with three felonies and two misdemeanors stemming from the collision and his alleged intoxication.2

Three years later, Ryder moved to suppress the blood sample, alleging that its collection violated his rights against unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Ryder also argued that suppression was appropriate as a violation of Indiana Code section 35-33-5-2, which explicitly bars issuing a search warrant until an affidavit is "filed with the judge." At the suppression hearing, Augst could not recall whether he had left a copy of the documents with Judge Crawford, and Judge Crawford was apparently never contacted about her recollection of events or to see if she had retained a copy of the affidavit.

After the two-day hearing, the trial court granted the motion to suppress, excluding the blood test results. Because the electronic docket entries indicated a copy of the search warrant and affidavit were not recorded by the clerk until 11:17 a.m., the trial court stated that it didn't believe a copy of the affidavit had been properly "filed" before Trooper Augst received and executed the warrant. Tr., p. 90. To the trial court, "it wasn't filed, [Trooper Augst] left and he had the Judge sign it, went to Eskenazi [Hospital], got that done, came back, dropped it off in the box. When it got dropped off in the box, that's when it was filed ." Id. , pp. 90–91 (emphasis added). The trial court also rejected the applicability of the good faith exception. The State appealed, and the Court of Appeals affirmed in a memorandum opinion. State v. Ryder , No. 18A-CR-2325, 2019 WL 3720720 (Ind. Ct. App. Aug. 8, 2019).

After hearing oral argument, we now grant transfer, vacating the Court of Appeals decision. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).

Standard of Review

When we review a trial court's ruling granting a motion to suppress "we determine whether the record discloses ‘substantial evidence of probative value that supports the trial court's decision.’ " State v. Renzulli , 958 N.E.2d 1143, 1146 (Ind. 2011) (quoting State v. Quirk , 842 N.E.2d 334, 340 (Ind. 2006) ). "We do not reweigh the evidence, but consider conflicting evidence most favorably to the trial court's ruling." Id. (quotations omitted). When the State is appealing a negative judgment, it "'must show that the trial court's ruling on the suppression motion was contrary to law.'" Id. (quoting State v. Washington , 898 N.E.2d 1200, 1203 (Ind. 2008) ). We, of course, review such questions of law de novo. Blair v. EMC Mortgage, LLC , 139 N.E.3d 705, 708 (Ind. 2020) (citations omitted).

Discussion and Decision

In addition to conforming with the prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana constitution,3 a valid warrant must comply with the additional statutory requirements implemented by our General Assembly. Gray v. State , 758 N.E.2d 519, 521 (Ind. 2001). The General Assembly has created a statutory framework to govern the issuance and execution of warrants that not only codifies the constitutional requirements, see Ind. Code § 35-33-5-1(a) (mirroring the constitutional requirement that a probable cause affidavit be supported by "oath or affirmation"), but also imposes additional requirements, see, e.g. , Ind. Code § 35-33-5-8 (specifying exact requirements for how a warrant can be approved without a written affidavit) and even provides a sample warrant form, see Ind. Code § 35-33-5-3.

When written affidavits are used, the General Assembly has long required that a copy of the affidavit be filed with the issuing court. See, e.g., Ind. Code Ann. § 35-1-6-2 (1914) (requiring the filing of an affidavit). Here, we must determine whether Indiana Code subsection 35-33-5-2(a)'s requirement that a warrant shall not issue until an affidavit "is filed with the judge" was met—either actually or substantially—when Trooper Augst undisputedly presented Judge Crawford with a written affidavit in the early morning of June 4th. See Ind. Code § 35-33-5-2 ("Except as provided in section 8 of this chapter [allowing the use of other forms of recorded testimony], and subject to the requirements of section 11 of this chapter, if applicable, no warrant for search or arrest shall be issued until there is filed with the judge an affidavit ...") (emphasis added).

I. The filing requirement was actually met.

Nearly a century ago, this Court considered what it meant to "file" an affidavit while obtaining a warrant and ultimately concluded that "[m]erely exhibiting an affidavit to the judge, or executing it before him, is not a ‘filing’ of the affidavit with the judge." Thompson v. State , 190 Ind. 363, 367, 130 N.E. 412, 413 (1921) (emphasis added). Rather, "[f]iling consists of the delivery of the paper to the proper officer for the purpose of being...

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3 cases
  • Ferman v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • February 10, 2021 within the statutorily-required time. Having reviewed the record, we agree with the trial court's conclusion. Cf. State v. Ryder , 148 N.E.3d 306, 312 (Ind. 2020) (reaffirming that under the substantial compliance doctrine, "providing a copy of an affidavit to the warrant-issuing judg......
  • Painter v. Gray
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Indiana
    • February 2, 2022
    ... ... Dkt. 55 ... "Assuming abuse of process is cognizable under § ... 1983, [courts] look to state law to determine the elements of ... the claim."[1] Hart v. Mannina, 798 F.3d 578, ... 593 (7th Cir. 2015). "In Indiana, the elements of ... which the process was designed to accomplish."). Either ... way, Officer Gray complied with Indiana law. State v ... Ryder, 148 N.E.3d 306, 313 (Ind ... 2020) (explaining "that providing a copy of an affidavit ... to the warrant-issuing judge satisfies the ... ...
  • State v. Smith
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • May 18, 2023

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