Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Backwards Again, In Indiana....

Well, folks, I have to make some comments about being back home again, in Indiana.  Yep, I'm glad to be home, closer to family and lifelong friends, but I'm absolutely confused and disappointed in ye ole home state.  Yes, this is a law blog, but you have stepped right into massive opinion station on this post.

If you're a loyal blog reader, A. I appreciate you, and B. you'll recognize the topic.  If you're not, you will either promptly delete me from your life, or you will decide I may not be half bad to read. I'm not really concerned with mediocre feelings and don't tend to evoke them.

In my previous post, on June 26, 2013, regarding the United States Supreme Court chiseling away at DOMA, a/k/a the Defense of Marriage Act, I mentioned several possibilities about our nation's potential move toward equality for same-sex marriages, as well as the interplay of the Full Faith and Credit Clause with DOMA's evil section 2, which allows State's to continue to discriminate against same-sex marriages, despite the Feds finally getting a small, but forceful clue on the situation.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, farm or cornfield, otherwise known as the Indiana House of Representatives, and Senate, HR-6, a/k/a House Resolution 6, purports to change the Indiana Constitution Article 1 by adding a Section 38, declaring as follows:

     Only a marriage between one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be valid or recognized as a         
     marriage in Indiana. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for 
     unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

To be clear, I have nothing against ranches, farms or cornfields, as I've lived near them all of my life and believe they are vital to the economy, our ability to feed the masses, etc.  However, I do have something against government and the general public having so much to say about what occurs in the bedrooms, living rooms and kitchens of the aforementioned ranches and farms with cornfields, livestock, etc.  The problem I have is:  WHY DO WE CARE SO MUCH?  

Domestic and family violence is a horrific plague upon homes in all socioeconomic classes. As a former prosecutor, I attest to the inadequate resources that exist for law enforcement to adequately handle these cases, and the inadequate community resources that exist to aid in prevention.  However, there is no publicized and radical legislation to increase penalties for repeat offenders.  There is no legislation affording funds to provide for training of prosecutors, law enforcement, and counselors to deal with these types of crimes and their aftermath.  Yet, we have a constitutional amendment proposed, to place in the Indiana Constitution, an amendment indicating two persons of the same-sex may not be married in Indiana, and any previously obtained marriage, valid in another state, may not be recognized.  Indiana already has (unfortunately) laws, invalidating and disallowing same-sex marrage.  For a review of these antiquated laws, click on the following Indiana Code Sections: 31-11-1-1, 31-11-4-2, and 31-11-11-7.
So, it's interesting in times of economic strife, health care strife, arguments and all around buzz, and state budgets dwindling, that some groups in Indiana decide to attempt to un-Constitutionalize same-sex marriage, you know, the type of marriage that was already illegal.  It's also interesting that two people's relationship, if they happen to be of the same sex, takes up so much congressional time, both in Indiana, and federally. Frankly, I should think we have actual issues to deal with in our less than perfect world.   Why the consistent begrudging of people's happiness?  

I know my questions have been asked before, and I'm may not be bringing anything all that new to the table. But, I had some outrage, and I felt like sharing.   I appreciate your time.

Food for Thought:

*The opinions expressed are of the blogger only and were not intended as legal advice or as an avenue to open a lawyer-client relationship.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Dog's were Let Out, and the Cat's out of the Bag -- What can ya do? (aka Who Let the Dogs Out Part Two)

attorney, central indianaEarlier, in a blog post on July 16, 2013,  I discussed when dogs could be used in searches in criminal cases.  Now, we need to discuss what happens when a dog "alerts" on your person, your car, or in your home.  The alert of a dog may let the cat out of the bag in your case.

All amusing animal references aside, if the officers have validly stopped you, or come onto your property, and validly use a canine sniff during the stop or visit, the next consideration in your case would be whether the canine used actually made a valid alert.  There are several things you will want to discuss with your attorney, and you want to ensure the attorney you choose asks you about those things.

First, through the process of discovery, your attorney should obtain records regarding the canine's training, experience, and false alerts.  Without this information, neither you, nor your attorney may properly evaluate the accuracy and ability of the canine who performed the sniff search in your case. Most attorneys do not push for this information, as it's kind of a pain in the butt to get from the prosecutor. However, the information is out there, and you are entitled to it!  If the officer's canine allegedly "alerts" on your vehicle and smells "pot", your attorney better know if the canine always alerts accurately to the presence of pot, never alerts to the presence of pot, or falsely alerts to the presence of pot.

Second, you and your attorney need to learn, in the discovery process, what the dog's "alert" is, and when the dog alerts versus when said alert may be prompted or something else entirely. Training records of the dog are absolutely integral to this analysis. Your attorney needs to know how the dog is positively reinforced, and how the dog is to be handled when sniffing for the drugs in question.  This will allow your attorney to question the officer's actions, effectively, when the officer discusses the dog sniff in the case.  Whether the officer was either purposefully or inadvertently breaking protocol, knowledge; of any tells or hints an officer provides to his canine, or breaches in search protocol the officer uses with the canine; is a powerful cross-examination tool that allows juries to see just how fallible the canines and their humans are, possibly providing you with relief from the legal system.

Third, you should work with your attorney to determine the best use of the information obtained, whether it be through pretrial motion practice, impeachment of the officer at trial, or in negotiation of a plea. 

*Nothing written or stated in this blog is meant to be legal advice forming an attorney/client relationship.  The statements are the opinion of the blogger only.