Tales from the Brown Desk

Tales from the Brown Desk - Episode 9 - Recent Court of Appeals Opinions, IMPD, & Florida Man

May 19, 2020 Rigney Law LLC Season 1 Episode 9
Tales from the Brown Desk
Tales from the Brown Desk - Episode 9 - Recent Court of Appeals Opinions, IMPD, & Florida Man
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Tales from the Brown Desk
Tales from the Brown Desk - Episode 9 - Recent Court of Appeals Opinions, IMPD, & Florida Man
May 19, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
Rigney Law LLC

Weekly Criminal Law Podcast, Tales from the Brown Desk, brought to you by Rigney Law LLC. Tales from the Brown Desk is a free flowing conversation involving two foul-mouthed attorneys. It may include graphic descriptions of sexual activity, violence, and traffic law. It may not be suitable for children. Listener discretion advised.

Episode 9 - Discussion about recent Indiana Court of Appeals Opinions: State of Indiana v. April Glaze and the investigation phase, police questioning, motion to suppress evidence, the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, Miranda Rights; Daniel Wahl and Saundra Wahl v. State of Indiana and dissenting Appeals Court Judge's opinion, suppression of evidence, involuntary manslaughter; The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department getting body cameras; Ahmaud Arbery & Florida Man. 

Show Notes Transcript

Weekly Criminal Law Podcast, Tales from the Brown Desk, brought to you by Rigney Law LLC. Tales from the Brown Desk is a free flowing conversation involving two foul-mouthed attorneys. It may include graphic descriptions of sexual activity, violence, and traffic law. It may not be suitable for children. Listener discretion advised.

Episode 9 - Discussion about recent Indiana Court of Appeals Opinions: State of Indiana v. April Glaze and the investigation phase, police questioning, motion to suppress evidence, the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, Miranda Rights; Daniel Wahl and Saundra Wahl v. State of Indiana and dissenting Appeals Court Judge's opinion, suppression of evidence, involuntary manslaughter; The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department getting body cameras; Ahmaud Arbery & Florida Man. 

Jacob Rigney – It’s Friday afternoon. We’ve locked the door so no one will interrupt this while we sit and scream just go ahead and give me the Ronna already! And also because it’s time for another edition of our weekly podcast Tales from the Brown Desk. I’m Jake Rigney of Rigney Law LLC. With me as usual as my law partner, wife, and the only person I’ve ever beaten at Yahtzee, Kassi Rigney. Our host is Teri Ulm. Friendly reminder, Tales from the Brown Desk is a free-flowing conversation involving two foul-mouthed attorneys. It may include graphic descriptions of sexual activity, violence, and my daughter puking. It may not be suitable for children, birds, bees, the birds, Graham Nash, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, or the Bee Gees. Listener discretion is advised. Here’s Teri.

Teri Ulm – Hello everyone. Hi Jake. How are you today?

Jacob Rigney – Oh, I’m tired I guess. I’m in a bad mood. How are you?

Teri Ulm – I’m good. Thanks.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah.

Teri Ulm – Hi Kassi. How are you?

Kassi Rigney – I’m just fine. Thank you.

Teri Ulm – Good. Are you not as tired as Jake?

Kassi Rigney – No. He’s on what we call primary baby duty today. So, it’s my Friday off.

Indiana Court of Appeals Opinion – State of Indiana v. April Glaze

Teri Ulm – So, today we’re gonna talk about some Court of Appeals opinions and some current events. The first Court of Appeals opinion is the State of Indiana v. April Glaze. This is a case where the State of Indiana appealed a trial court’s partial grant of the defendant’s motion to suppress, and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of defendant. Now, they ruled that the trial court did not err and suppressing statements made by the defendant after she stated that she wanted to end questioning and go home. Have you read this case?

Jacob Rigney – Yeah. I read this one, this week. You only gave us like 70 pages of reading this week. So, good job, Teri. Yeah, so the facts are kind of peculiar on this one. And some of it is very very sad. So, anyone who’s been involved in human trafficking or anything like that you may not want to listen to this part. But essentially, according to the Court of Appeals, Ms. Glaze was involved in a human trafficking investigation. Where, I believe her boyfriend and another person, had been essentially selling her children as, you know, not to put it too bluntly, but his sex slaves. And the authorities obviously believed that Ms. Glaze was more involved in that process then she was charged with originally. She was originally charged as part of the investigation, but it’s unclear what she was charged and convicted of. Authorities apparently believed that she was more involved, and so they went back and attempted to interview her again. They picked her up at her house, took her to the courthouse, to an office at the prosecutor’s office in Putnam County. Where I’ve been. It’s a nice courthouse. They had life-size cutouts of Donald Trump and Mike Pence on the third floor last time I was there. Oh. Just up there on the third floor, just standing there. In case you wanted to get your picture taken with uh with the two of them.

Teri Ulm – Is that Putnam County?

Jacob Rigney –  Yes.

Teri Ulm – Okay. Just want to know where to avoid.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah Greencastle. Greencastle, Indiana.

Teri Ulm – Thanks.

Jacob Rigney – Yep. So they took her, put her in an interview room they have in the courthouse and started asking her questions. And eventually started using sort of what you consider the normal police interrogation technique. Which is to emphasize how important it is to tell the truth, and how how important it is to get all the truth out there, and how important it is for the victims themselves and the girls that you tell everything that happened, so that they can, you know, so that… Because that’s what’s best for everyone. And sometimes that’s true. Sometimes getting the truth out is what’s best for everyone. Sometimes it’s not what’s best for people who are being interrogated. Which is why they have the right to remain silent about it. They also told her that they would drive her home after the interview and they eventually did do that, but while she was there she didn’t have any way to get home except with them. And yeah, at some point during the conversation, she’s frustrated, she’s tired, she doesn’t want to talk to them anymore apparently, and says, you know, “I just I want this to be over with. I want to go home.” And I think the Court of Appeals also noted that when they took a break, they continued recording her, which they usually they can do that. That’s fine. And she was frustrated talking to herself, like about how they would not take her home. And she just wanted to go home, and they won’t take her. And so the Court of Appeals found that, you know, saying she wanted it to be over with and go home was enough. And that it was an assertion of her right to remain silent. And that they shouldn’t have questioned her anymore after that. So they threw out everything after she said that.

Kassi Rigney – This just makes me think of the case like this. We talked before where, what was the comment the gentleman had said, I want a lawyer bro?

Teri Ulm – I want a lawyer dawg.

Kassi Rigney – I want a lawyer dawg. And this, is kind of highlights what lawyers deal with and why you get these, you know, answers you know you’re not getting a clear answer. You know both of those cases are good law. And you have to… that’s why everything is case specific and I want a lawyer dawg is not sufficient. I want to go home, it can be sufficient. You know, and that’s why you pay us the big bucks. But talking this through reminded me of that, and just the different language that was reviewed by the court, and how they came down two different ways.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah. So another thing that people who haven’t studied the law don’t understand, is that the right to an attorney is different from the right to remain silent. They are preserved in separate and distinct parts of the Constitution. And you can assert one, you can assert the other, or you can assert both. If you don’t want to talk to the police, the best way to avoid doing it is to say both. Just say both right away. I want a lawyer, and I want to remain silent. So that there’s no way they can wiggle out of it. And then you know you talk to a lawyer before you decide what you want to do next. The police, they like to imply, if not straight-out state, that the interview they’re doing is very important, and it’s time-sensitive, and it needs to be done right then and there. And that they’re not going to wait around, and that they can’t do that at a later date. The truth is almost always the opposite. That they can take your statement whenever they want to. And you always have time to consult with an attorney about it, and decide whether it’s really a good idea or not before you decide to do it. There is very little that you can tell them on Tuesday that is not going to be useful to them as well on Friday. I mean literally the only time is if you’ve got a victim, you know, in a box and they’re gonna starve or drown. If the police don’t get to them in time, right? The rest of the time, it can wait. Talk to a lawyer first. Talk to somebody who’s got your best interests at heart, rather than just saying, you know, okay.

The Right to Remain Silent. The Right to an Attorney.

Teri Ulm – So in this case did the lady have any rights to not be questioned? Like she willingly went with the officer to be interrogated. Like did she have a right to remain silent then?

Kassi Rigney – Well that is a right that you always have. The thing is… But the police also have the right to come and ask you if you want to  talk. But you, in the United States, you are never compelled to… Well you’re never compelled to give incriminating information. Like I say, in a civil matter you could be you ordered to answer a question, in a civil matter. So, but in a criminal matter, you cannot be forced to talk to the police.

Jacob Rigney – It’s important to remember that there’s a distinction. What the Constitution actually says is that you have the right against self-incrimination. Which means you have the right to remain silent, if they’re asking you questions that would tend to incriminate you, right? They ask you, did you kill your wife? The answer to that is gonna incriminate you if you say yes. Which means if you are not going to incriminating yourself, you don’t have the right to remain silent. People hear I have the right to remain silent, and they assume that means that they never have to talk, and they never have to say anything. But that’s not actually true. You only have the right to remain silent if what you would say would incriminate you. So if I’m a witness to a robbery, for example, I cannot tell the police I assert my right to remain silent, because I just don’t want to talk about it. Now they can’t hold me down and beat me till I talk about it, but they can issue me a grand jury subpoena. Make me appear. Put me under oath. Ask me questions, and if I don’t answer those questions, I have to… I can be found in contempt of court. So, they can make you talk if you’re not going to incriminate yourself. Now if you are going to incriminate yourself, then they can’t make you talk. And if you assert your right to remain silent, then they have to do something called designating you as non-target of their investigation, and they can’t use anything you say against you, if you get charged later with something. But, they can sometimes make you talk. And there have been some examples here in Indianapolis where that’s happened. Especially with sort of what you call uncooperative witnesses in really important cases. Like murder cases or something like that. And at least once I know it has come back to cause that witness, who was forced to testify, forced to come in and testify. It caused them to receive reprisals from the street. From the people involved. Now that does not usually happen. That is very rare that anyone is actually attacked because they’re a cooperating witness. It does happen occasionally, but not like you expect on TV. Or not like that not like you’d hear. There’s a common thing about it. But it actually doesn’t happen that often.

Kassi Rigney – And I guess, to point out the further distinction, when you would be forced, a judge is issuing… You know, you’re being ordered by a judge. You know. You’re talking about, are you ever being forced to talk to the police. When the police encounter you, the police are not gonna force you. If you’re going to be compelled to give testimony, it’ll be by a judge. So yeah. When you’ve got… If you’ve got a detective breathing down your neck, he is not. If you are going to be compelled, it will not be by him.

Teri Ulm – For a layperson to understand when they can remain silent and when they’re compelled to talk, I think, I don’t know I’m taking away from this, as long as a judge is not telling me that I have to talk, I can remain silent?

Kassi Rigney – I think we should do, if you’re afraid to talk, you need to talk to a lawyer. Ultimately… is you need to talk to a lawyer.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah now that… And the police generally on their own can’t do much of anything to make you talk. But like I said, when the Prosecutor’s Office gets involved, they can through the use of grand jury subpoenas and testimony. But yeah the the question of really whether you can assert the right to remain silent or not is sort of a complicated legal one that you’ll want a lawyer to help you with.

Miranda Rights – Advisement Form

Teri Ulm – Now in this case they also mentioned that there was an advisement form. That the defendant read. What is an advisement of her Miranda rights? Is that the same thing is being in read her rights?

Jacob Rigney – It’s not the same thing, it’s better. Because it’s in writing. So you can prove exactly what you told them. So there’s no question about whether or not the person was… Whether the rights were fully explained to the person, you know what I mean? Spoiler alert. The police officer is never gonna come into court later and say oh I don’t think I told her that she had the right to attorney. Right? He’s always gonna come in later and say no I told her all those things. I told her… Right. So if it’s written down that everyone knows exactly what the defendant was told. And then there’s no question about whether or not it was accurate. Or about whether he was really advised, whether Chad was really advised of those things. So that’s why it’s better. That it’s written. And they usually do that.

Kassi Rigney – It’s exactly what’s written on the card. If you didn’t know that most officers carry around a Miranda card, and they read right from it, verbatim. And that’s from case law. And then the advisement is verbatim from that case law. Courts put their stamp of approval. So this is it. And this is where it is. So it’s the same thing, but yeah it’s a record that, you know, two people… They signed it. So.

Teri Ulm – I think this is a win for the defendant in this case. For my understanding now the case goes back to the trial court and continues on without the evidence of any of her answers to the questions after she asked to leave.

Jacob Rigney – Well maybe. But yeah it was… to give you an idea of the procedure, it was an interlocutory appeal. So the defense attorney at the trial level requested the trial judge suppress portions of her statement after she said she wanted to go home. And the judge granted that request. He actually asked, I think the defense attorney attempted several different suppression issues, but that’s the only one that the court granted. The state sought interlocutory appeal so before the case could go further at the trial level the state tried to get the appeals court to overrule the trial court judge on that ruling about the statement. The appeals court said, no. The trial court judge was right. Leave us alone state. But the state still has I think 30 or 45 days, depending on how they did it, depending on how they appealed, to go to the Indiana Supreme Court and argue that the appeals court and the trial court judge got it wrong. If that’s what they want to do. And with a federal Miranda issue like this, in theory, it could end up at the US Supreme Court as well. I’m not saying it will. The state may even not bother with sending it to the Indiana Supreme. But the Indiana Supreme Court has trended, I think, a little more conservative lately than it had been in the past. And I think it trends a little more conservatively than the appeals court does as well. So you know the Attorney General’s Office who handles those appeals may decide that they’ll have more friendly ears in the Indiana Supreme Court. So they may very well try to appeal it up there. We don’t know yet. I don’t know how old that that case is. I didn’t notice when it was handed down.

Teri Ulm – It came out this week.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah. So they’ve got 30 days from when it was handed down to decide if they want to go further up. But yeah. If they don’t then it will go back to the trial court with that trial court’s ruling set in stone essentially.

Indiana Court of Appeals Opinion – Daniel Wahl and Saundra Wahl v. The State of Indiana

Teri Ulm – So the next case we’re going to talk about is very sad and tragic case. It’s a husband and wife. Daniel Wahl and Saundra Wahl v. The State of Indiana. The Wahls appealed their conviction for involuntary manslaughter. And in this opinion, two judges agreed with the trial court, and one judge dissented. But there’s so much more to this case than what I just said. It seems like they had two jury trials. Like one jury trial they lost. They appealed it individually. It went up to the Supreme Court where they consolidated it and then I got kicked back down for a new jury trial. And then now they’re appealing the second jury verdict.

Jacob Rigney – Right. They lost again. They lost again.

Teri Ulm – One of the things I found very sad about this case is the fact that a 20 month old little boy lost his life, tragically, in a basement of a home daycare facility.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah so sometimes it kind of helps to start from the beginning on these. The defendants were home day care operators. So they had an upstairs and downstairs. And they kept smaller children downstairs. And they partitioned the downstairs off from the upstairs and it probably prevented the small children from getting to the stairs by using a baby gate. The baby gate was not in perfect condition. And it had been repaired on more than one occasion. And it didn’t do a great job of keeping children out. And in fact the 20 month old, that unfortunately died in this situation, was capable of opening it. Which is a sure sign, generally among people who’ve ever used a baby gate, that you don’t use it anymore, right? When when its point is to keep the baby out, and it won’t keep the baby out, then you need to either replace it or take down your baby gates. But… So it started or I guess… Unfortunately the baby managed to get its head stuck and it suffocated. And the wife who was watching them didn’t notice it right away. And by the time she noticed what was going on, it was too late. And the baby had died. The police came. They assisted the Walhs in getting all of their… all of the other children out of the daycare without  seeing what was going on, and without further traumatize them. And then the police started, I guess doing what you’d call an investigation. I don’t know that the Wahls necessarily realized that’s what was going on, when it was going on, but they did. And that included having Saundra Wahl, the mother… Not the mother. The wife, taking a baby mannequin and put it in the gate, and do a reenactment of what she saw when she noticed the problem and what she did about it. And eventually the Wahls went to trial. They lost. They went up on appeal. They won on appeal. The convictions were vacated. They were released from whatever type of incarceration they’ve been placed in, and they went back for a second trial. Where they were again found guilty. And the one issue, sort of the biggest issue that came through in the second round, through the Court of Appeals, was whether or not it violated their right against self-incrimination to sort of have them engage in this reenactment without reading them their Miranda Rights. Because it was, you know, they were obviously asking her questions about what was happening, and having her show than what was happening. And Walh’s attorney, I think, fairly characterized that as an interrogation. And the Court of Appeals agreed. Yeah. I don’t think anybody really disputes. That is an interrogation. But there are two elements to Miranda. One is: were you interrogated by the police? The second is: were you in custody? And that’s the question that they had to answer, this time around, with regard to that issue, whether or not she was in custody with all the police in her house asking her to do things. And you got a weird opinion from the Court of Appeals on it. Because they all wrote… All three of the deciding… All three of the judges in the Court of Appeals on this case wrote their own opinion on it. We have sort of the the first opinion, which basically says no she wasn’t in custody. The second one… Also agreed she wasn’t in custody, but wrote separately to emphasize, I think maybe, that there were different aspects of it she considered more important during her concurring opinion. And then we had a dissenter who disagreed and believed that she was in custody. But two beats one. So her convictions will stand for now. You can assume it will probably take that to the Supreme Court as well.

Dissenting Opinion

Teri Ulm – I find it very interesting that judges presented with the same evidence, and the same arguments, and the same case law can come to different conclusions. Like what if for example, two judges thought the way the one judge that dissented did? How would this case turned out differently?

Kassi Rigney – Well, if she was found to be in custody, than that evidence would be suppressed if Miranda was not read. The thing is…It’s not a math problem. And this is something that I think lawyers think that people, you know, lay people assume. The discovery… What it is, the discovery process is the process in which evidence is vetted. Is it of reliable quality to be entered against someone at trial? Then you get to trial, then lawyers get to argue about what that evidence means. Once it has met the credibility. And then that’s how two different people can, you know, judges can come down on two different ways. You got two different lawyers. You know, we all agree what the… we you know we know what the evidence is gonna be in the case, and then lawyers agree what it means… or argue about what it means. And the judge decides. And it is a vote. And exactly. It would have gone the other way if the if the vote was the other way.

Suppression of Evidence

Teri Ulm – Now how could something so important like the gate itself not be allowed as evidence at the trial?

Jacob Rigney – Alright. Because the court of app…. the trial court decided at the second motion to suppress, the motion to suppress before the second trial, that the gate itself could not be entered into evidence. Now the Court of Appeals doesn’t discuss it very much, and without reading the trial court order, it would be difficult, and potentially not without even hearing the evidence, it would be very difficult to figure out why the gate wasn’t placed into evidence. But it’s possible that they determined that with the video they had of the reenactment it would have been cumulative or… because you just can’t put the same evidence in sixteen different ways to make it look like you’ve got sixteen times as much evidence.

Kassi Rigney – The other thing is, to put something in evidence, it generally, you know, should be of the same condition. If they have photographs of the way that the gate was at the relevant time, versus a disassembled gate, it’s, you know, is it not of the same value come trial time? Okay. Yeah. The gate was. Well if it’s in 15 pieces now, it doesn’t have the same evidentiary value. Because you’re thinking about, yeah people want to see, what it was. Well yeah. But you want to see where it was. How it was fashioned in this home? What was the opportunity that this child had to access it? So those are the kind of things that a court’s gonna look at before jury gets to see it. You don’t want to confuse the jury.

Jacob Rigney – Having taken apart a big baby gate or two myself, I can tell you that some of them do not remain in the same condition once you remove them. They’re designed to sort of… When they’re not stuck between two things that are holding, them they will spread out. Then you have to squeeze it together you can get it into the thing… into the place that you’re using to gate it. So once you take it out it’s entirely possible that it doesn’t actually show anything, and and runs the risk, for example, of confusing the jury. Because there was testimony about the gate, and about how it didn’t really work very well. It was very easy to open a close. Way too easy. But if you looked at the last baby gate I took apart, when it’s not installed, it’s all splayed apart and it won’t even close at all. And when you look at that, you look at it, you think it’s broken. I looked at it when I first installed it, I was like this… this is defective. We’re gonna have to send  this back. This obviously doesn’t work. And then I read the instructions, and I was like, oh. So I have to squeeze it all together to mush it in there. Okay. Now makes sense. Well if the cops took it out, and then took it and put it in front of a jury all splayed out, you know, not normally installed. The jury might look at it and go, Jesus. It’s broken as hell. Why would anybody ever think that can hold a baby? When it didn’t look like that when it was installed. You know what I mean? And so if the judge saw that, if that was the situation, and the judge said well that’s gonna confuse people, so no. You can’t put the gate in. That would be a plausible reason. Without seeing the gate. Without being in court. Without understanding it, it’s real difficult to say exactly why the court did that though. There’s usually a good reason.

Husband v. Wife

Teri Ulm – Another thing that I found interesting, in this case, in the opinion it stated that the husband and wife started distancing themselves from each other. The husband was claiming to not be present. And the wife was claiming that the husband was to blame since he was responsible for ensuring the gate was installed properly. Just out of curiosity, if you two were involved in something… Like a tragic accident like this, would you come together or would you point the fingers at each other?

Kassi Rigney – Oh you’re talking about us being accused?

Teri Ulm – This was a tragic accident I think maybe sometimes tragic accidents can happen to any of us.

Jacob Rigney – That’s true.

Kassi Rigney – I  agree with the attorney. I assume it’s the attorneys advice to separate them. It’s not uncommon that people think that they have the same interests, and that they could have the same lawyer, and oftentimes it’s not.

Teri Ulm – So I would think it’s a good assumption to assume that this husband and wife had separate lawyers since they were blaming each other.

Jacob Rigney – Yeah. I didn’t check, but I would think that. And it would be… In the situation as it’s described in the Court of Appeals opinion, it would be very difficult for one attorney to represent both of them. Because the husband wasn’t just saying he wasn’t there. Everyone agreed he was upstairs, I think, outside when this happened. And the child that died was not his responsibility. He took care of the older children. She took care of the younger children. But they found him responsible because his job was to make sure the gate worked right. And that’s where… And his repeated failure to do that, despite having knowledge that there was a problem with it, ended up causing him to be criminally responsible for it. So whoever represented him, made a very good point. Which is how can I commit voluntary manslaughter from 100 feet away? Without a gun or anything? I’m just watching some kids upstairs. But it was his responsibility, apparently, to maintain the gate, or at least that’s what the state proved at trial. And the jury accepted that and found him guilty. But you can’t represent both of them if dad’s defense is gonna be: it’s not me it was her. I mean, you know, because how are you gonna do closing arguments? Are you going to get up during his closing argument, point at your other client and say it’s her fault? Like they… That just  doesn’t work. That would get all the convictions thrown out. So taking that type of defense is what’s commonly known as a conflict of interest. When the two co-defendants sort of are pointing at each other as the culprit. Yeah, one attorney can’t represent both of them. As for what Kassi and I would do if we were accused of something terrible like that, I think it would probably depend on whose fault it was. Because if it was my fault Kassi would most certainly distance herself from me. But if it wasn’t either of our faults, then we may find a mutual defense and not feel the need to do that. It’s just sort of a highlight of how every case is different and every person’s situation is different. And sometimes it’s really hard to take one set of facts and imagine yourself put into, because you just don’t know what it’s like being in the middle of it. Sometimes even hard to talk about cases like this, because it’s difficult to say what’s going through the defendants mind, what’s going through the attorneys minds, what’s coming through the judges mind. So they’re always very fact-specific. Always very fact sensitive. Pretty much, no matter what.

Freak Accident – Florida Man Dies After Getting Hit by Daughter in Truck

Teri Ulm – Freak accidents happen often and they can happen to any of us, just like Florida Man.

Jacob Rigney – Oh good. Florida Man is into the freak accidents now.

Teri Ulm – Yeah. Poor Florida Man. He was teaching his 15 year old daughter how to drive and park. And she parked this Ford F-150, and the father got out of the truck and stood in front of the truck and while she’s in the parking a parking space. She was going to back up. That was the intention. But instead of putting the truck in reverse, the hit the gas, and it was in drive, and went over curb, struck her father, then struck a tree. Her father actually ended up dying from the injuries that he suffered.

Jacob Rigeny – Yeah that’s… They’re all sad today, Teri. That’s another really sad case.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Getting Body Camera

Teri Ulm – I know… So with the killing of a pregnant woman and the killing of two black men the Indianapolis Police Department has been making headlines. And recently the Indianapolis Mayor has come out and said that the police department will be getting new body cameras this summer. This isn’t as a result of these recent shootings of deaths. But they say it’s been in the work for works for about 18 months. And one of the things I found interesting was that they noted that Indianapolis is the largest city in the United States that doesn’t have body cams on their police officers. So why are we so far behind? And how will this help or hurt your defenses of your clients when you can get body footage from the police officers?

Kassi Rigney – Well the financial problems of Marion County, Indiana are kind of beyond here, but I mean it’s a funding issue. We were prosecutors, I think, when they did the initial across the country… they did the test run with the body cams. What was my experience, that okay, we got the initial stuff. They didn’t have the other initial equipment, but they didn’t have the financial ability to properly maintain that equipment. As time went on, they didn’t have the financial resources to maintain all of the space to store that amount of video. I think it’s a money it’s a money issue.

Jacob Rigney – Kassi may have forgotten this, but there was a stretch there for maybe two years… Two years and two months actually, where she was a prosecutor and I was a defense attorney. And so they were rolling out the body cameras while she was still a prosecutor, but I was a defense attorney. And I had a case where the body cameras actually came back on one of them and significantly helped my case. So generally I think it’s great. I think that a lot of times and with a lot of people seeing is believing, right? I think it’s clear from the Reed shooting, you know, a week or ten days ago that some people won’t believe the police. Just because they say that a certain thing happened. But I suspect if they see it on video, then it’ll be a lot harder for them to say that the police are lying about it. And that’s great because I don’t want to live in a city where the police are known for lying. You know what I mean? Yeah. It actually makes my job harder. Because, and some of my clients might not like to hear this but, the truth is the vast majority of the police officers that we deal with are telling the truth. There are some that lie. And there are… and that’s frustrating. It’s even more frustrating because the ones who lie are probably pretty good at it. And so it’s real hard to tell the difference between the ones that lie and the ones that don’t. So having ways to confirm that what the officer said is true or not by way of a video makes a lot of things a lot easier. Now I would also caution people, because I’ve dealt with this question a lot too, but body cameras are not the end all and be all of solving these problems. Right. The body cameras do not catch everything that happens. They only catch a sort of medium sized range of vision, directly in front of the officer. So if somebody is off to the officer’s left or off to the officer’s right, the body camera is not gonna pick it up, okay. And the audio and video recorders aren’t always gonna work. And the officers will be allowed to turn off both the audio and the video portions of it when they want to. So there are still ample ways to do dirty things with body cameras even if the police want to. Okay? So it is not going to solve all of our policing problems.  The only way we’re gonna solve all our policing problems is to eliminate humans from policing. And nobody wants that either. It’s a human institution. They’re gonna make mistakes, just like attorneys make mistakes, just like judges occasionally make mistakes. And it’s a part of the system that unfortunately we have to learn to live with. And body cameras will not change that. Although they will help.

Florida Man and Ahmed Arbury

Teri Ulm – So all across the nation there have been protests involving the killing of Ahmed Arbury. He was the young black man who was  running through a neighborhood in Georgia when two white guys, I think a son and a father, confronted him and ended up shooting and killing him. Florida Man joined this protest. And he decided it to up the ante a little bit. So these protests were because of the coronavirus and the social system saying people were just running through neighborhoods. Just run with Ahmad. And the Florida Man decided to run  through a neighborhood. Florida Man is white. And he put the TV under his arm, and ran through a neighborhood just to see if anyone would think he looked suspicious running through a neighborhood carrying a TV.

Jacob Rigney – Oh a television. Yeah. I thought you said TB like tuberculosis. I was like, how do you carry that? I mean I know how you carry it, but how do you carry it outside your body? Anyway so, he just ran through African-American neighborhoods… Running with a TV under his arm?

Teri Ulm – Not African-American neighborhoods, but white neighborhoods. He wanted to kind of reenact, in Florida.

Kassi Rigney – It was a great social experiment. I saw that as well. I think it was a good point. A good way to illustrate his point.

Jacob Rigney – How did it go?

Teri Ulm – For him, he was not in fear at all. In fact, some people waved at him, said hi to him. He got lots of smiles, but no one was in fear that this guy’s running through neighborhood with the TV under his arm.

Social Experiment

Jacob Rigney – Yeah. I did kind of… I don’t want to call it an experiment, because it was more that I was lazy then I was actually trying to see what would happen. But you know even you have the sticker on the back of your on your license plate? On the back of your car, and it has to be updated when you renew your plate. So and we’ve all of course heard about the driving while black phenomenon. That African Americans tend to get pulled over at significantly higher rates than white people. For all sorts of different offenses. So I drove an entire year without the sticker on my license plate. I just left it on my registration. Put my registration in my car, and I figured ah. You know. If they pull me over I’ll just show it to them and say oh I’m sorry I just threw it in there and forgot to put it on. My bad. And I didn’t get pulled over. Like now once. You were not towed anywhere either? No. No. My car – now I don’t live in an apartment. It’s possible that an apartment complex would tow my car. But no. My car was never towed. I was never pulled over. There are… Now I will tell you, and the police officers who were listening to this right now, I know there are a couple that probably do, probably have an innocent explanation for why I didn’t get pulled over. So I should say, that it is entirely possible that police officers ran my plate repeatedly and every time they ran it, they saw my registration was current. So they didn’t pull me over. That’s possible. But it’s also possible that I was a white dude in a Toyota so… and so they feel like it was worth their time. I don’t know. Only the individual police officers who did or didn’t pull me over in their hearts know why they did what they did. It certainly wouldn’t have been who I was. Because I’m a defense attorney. I assume they both all tend to like want to pull over defense attorneys. Right.

Teri Ulm – But that’s not in their database when they search your your license plate, that you’re Jake Rigney of Rigney Law.

Jacob Rigney – Well no. But my name is probably familiar to a fair number of them. Between 10 years of the prosecutor’s office and 5 years doing this. Of course mostly now I deal with detectives and they don’t tend to pull anyone over for any reason. Because they’re doing other things. But yeah. It’s interesting. It doesn’t surprise me. Good job Florida Man. Way to really hold a mirror up to society.

Kassi Rigney – Well  actually it was a well-thought-out and smartly executed little socially… this is… This man’s from somewhere else.

Jacob Rigney – That’s exactly what I was just going to say. He’s from Georgia. He just moved to Florida. That’s amazing. I was just gonna say… And I bet he’s not originally from Florida. We need an update on that. I’ll look into that.

Teri Ulm – And that wraps up this episode of Tales from the Brown Desk.

Jacob Rigney – Okay. Really though. Thank you for listening to Tales from the Brown Desk. Please note, while we may discuss legal issues and provide information regarding the law to our listeners, we do not intend to create an attorney-client relationship with any listener. Our advice may not be applicable to some legal issues. Please consult with an attorney you have hired to review your legal situation before you attempt to apply the things we have said to your case. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with one of us regarding your criminal law matter, please call us at 317-793-2649. If you’d like to submit a question for our podcast, please send an e-mail to [email protected] and title your e-mail podcast question. The attorneys at Rigney Law do not comment on their current pending cases. Nothing we have said in this podcast is a comment on a case we are currently working on, even if your name is Chad or if you live in Florida. Take care, everybody.