APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Marilyn A. Moores, Judge. The Honorable Gary Chavers, Magistrate. Cause No. 49D09-1402-JD-327.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CHRIS P. FRAZIER, Marion County Public Defender Agency, Appellate Division, Indianapolis, Indiana.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; GEORGE P. SHERMAN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.
BRADFORD, Judge. NAJAM, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.
On December 2, 2013, Jane Buckingham was working as a
science teacher at Northwest High School in Indianapolis when
Appellant-Respondent R.M. requested permission to place his backpack behind
Buckingham's desk. Buckingham initially granted R.M. permission to do so, but
later became concerned about whether there was contraband in the backpack.
Buckingham contacted Indiana Public School Police Sergeant Jeffrey Brunner who
searched the backpack, finding a handgun. On February 18, 2014, Appellee-Petitioner
the State of Indiana (the "State") filed a petition alleging that R.M. was a
delinquent child for committing what would be Class C felony carrying a handgun
without a license and Class D felony possession of a firearm inside a school if
committed by an adult. Following a fact-finding hearing, the juvenile court
adjudicated R.M. to be a delinquent child for committing the above-stated acts
and placed R.M. on probation.
On appeal, R.M. argues that the juvenile court abused
its discretion in admitting the handgun into evidence during the fact-finding
hearing because the handgun was discovered during an unreasonable search of his
backpack in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Upon review, we conclude that Sergeant Brunner's search of the backpack was
reasonable. As such, we further conclude that the juvenile court did not abuse
its discretion in admitting the handgun into evidence. Accordingly, we
affirm the judgment of the juvenile court.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On December 2, 2013, Buckingham was working as a
science teacher at Northwest High School. Before school started for the day,
Buckingham was approached by R.M. R.M. requested permission to place his
backpack behind Buckingham's desk. R.M. was in Buckingham's first two classes
that day. Although Northwest High School has a policy prohibiting students from
carrying backpacks from class to class, Buckingham allowed R.M. to place
his backpack near a file cabinet behind her desk. Buckingham did so because she
thought that the backpack might contain some equipment that R.M. might need due
to a medical condition. R.M. did not take his backpack with him upon leaving
Buckingham's classroom. R.M. did not come back for the backpack at the time of
day when Buckingham believed R.M. would need the medical equipment.
At some point before the end of the school day,
Sergeant Brunner was called to Buckingham's classroom. Sergeant Brunner
indicated that he went to Buckingham's classroom after Buckingham had expressed
concerns about a backpack left in her room by a student. Sergeant Brunner
located the backpack, unzipped it, and looked inside. Upon looking inside the
backpack, Sergeant Brunner saw a pair of shoes. Sergeant Brunner noticed the
"grip or butt" of a "small caliber semi-automatic handgun with wooden grips"
sticking out of one of the shoes. Tr. p. 53. Sergeant Brunner subsequently