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State v. Downey

Court of Appeals of Indiana

July 31, 2014

STATE OF INDIANA, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
CHASE R. DOWNEY, Appellee-Defendant

APPEAL FROM THE CLARK CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Daniel E. Moore, Judge. Cause No. 10C01-1108-FB-131.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana, JUSTIN F. ROEBEL, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: JENNIFER HINKEBEIN CULOTTA, Culotta & Culotta LLP, New Albany, Indiana, KRISTINE M. NOLE, The Nole Law Office LLP, New Albany, Indiana.

BRADFORD, Judge. RILEY, J., concurs. ROBB, J., dissents with opinion.

OPINION

Page 813

OPINION - FOR PUBLICATION

BRADFORD, Judge

CASE SUMMARY

Appellee-Defendant Chase R. Downey was arrested after guns, marijuana, and a large sum of cash were discovered during a traffic stop of the vehicle in which he was a passenger. At the time of the stop, Downey indicated that the cash belonged to him. The cash was seized at the time of his arrest. On August 23, 2011, Downey was charged in Division One of the Clark County Circuit Court (the "Division One Circuit Court") with Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Class C felony carrying a handgun without a license, and Class D felony possession of marijuana. On September 16, 2011, the funds seized from Downey were transferred to the federal government pursuant to a transfer order that was issued by the trial judge presiding over Division Three of the Clark County Superior Court (the "Division Three Superior Court").[1]

Downey filed several requests in the Division One Circuit Court to have the seized funds returned to him before filing a motion to set aside the transfer order on July 27, 2013. The Division One Circuit Court subsequently granted Downey's petition to set aside the transfer order and instructed Appellant-Plaintiff the State of Indiana (the " State" ) to return the seized funds to Downey. On appeal, the State contends that the Division One Circuit Court abused its discretion in setting aside an order of the Division Three Superior Court, a separate court of equal jurisdiction. Concluding that the Division One Circuit Court abused its discretion in setting aside the transfer order, we reverse the judgment of the Division One Circuit Court.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 18, 2011, Indiana State Trooper Nathan Abbott initiated a traffic

Page 814

stop after he observed a white Chevy Impala make an abrupt lane change on Interstate 65 " [u]pon seeing his unmarked police car." Tr. p. 161. In making the abrupt lane change, the driver of the Impala " almost [struck] another vehicle." Tr. p. 161. During the traffic stop, Trooper Abbott observed a " large wad of currency" next to the front seat passenger, who was subsequently identified as Downey. Tr. p. 136. Trooper Abbott also noticed a strong smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. Trooper Abbott's K9 ...


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