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R.M. v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 13, 2014

R.M., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Petitioner

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.

OPINION

Page 874

BRADFORD, Judge

CASE SUMMARY

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

Page 875

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 discovered ...


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