Argued: February 21, 2019
from the Jackson Circuit Court, No. 36C01-1510-F4-25 The
Honorable Richard W. Poynter, Judge
Petition to Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Henry A. Flores, Jr. Laura R. Anderson Tyler G.
Banks Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Andrew J. Baldwin Mark E. Kamish
Baldwin Kyle & Kamish, P.C. Franklin, Indiana
police interrogate someone in custody without providing
Miranda warnings, the person's interrogated
statements are generally inadmissible as evidence against
that individual in a criminal trial.
two police officers interrogated Ernesto Ruiz in a secured
area at a police station, without providing him
Miranda warnings. When the State tried to use
statements Ruiz made during the interrogation as evidence
against him in a criminal trial, he moved to suppress them as
inadmissible. The trial court granted the motion.
State appealed, arguing suppression was contrary to law
because Ruiz-although interrogated-was not in custody.
Finding substantial, probative evidence that he was in
custody, we affirm the trial court's decision.
and Procedural History
small, windowless room in a secured area of the Seymour
Police Department, two police officers tag-teamed an
interrogation of Ernesto Ruiz, who had been accused of a
crime. Neither officer gave him Miranda warnings,
and multiple times the officers told Ruiz that he was to
"sit tight" in the interrogation room.
the State sought to use a video of the interrogation as
evidence against Ruiz in a criminal trial. Ruiz moved to
suppress it, arguing his statements in the video were
inadmissible because they were made during custodial
interrogation in the absence of Miranda warnings.
trial court heard evidence on the matter: testimony from the
two officers who interrogated Ruiz, and the audio-video
recording of the interrogation. The court also heard
arguments, which the court considered overnight along with
relevant caselaw. The next day, the court heard more
testimony and argument, and then granted Ruiz's motion to
granting the motion, the court recognized-rightly-that
whether Ruiz was in custody turns on objective
circumstances. It then determined that the environment
was "a police setting" in which multiple officers
questioned Ruiz in an accusatory and focused way in a room
behind several closed doors. The court observed that although
Ruiz went to the police station on his own, he "had to
be buzzed into the area or taken into the area of a secure
room." And although the first officer told Ruiz he could
walk out of the interrogation-room door, the court found that
statement, in this specific context, would not make a
reasonable person feel free to leave. The court emphasized
that after the second officer later entered the room, shut
the door, and took on the role of interrogator, Ruiz was not
told that he could leave or that the first officer's
initial statement remained valid.
State claimed that it could not proceed without the evidence
that had been suppressed. For this reason, and since a jury
had already been empaneled, the court declared a mistrial.
State appealed the suppression decision, see Ind.
Code § 35-38-4-2(5) (2018), and a panel of the Court of
Appeals reversed, concluding the interrogation was not
custodial, State v. Ruiz, No. 36A01-1712-CR-2999,
2018 WL 3543561, at *5 (Ind.Ct.App. July 24, 2018).
petitioned for transfer, which we now grant, vacating the
Court of Appeals decision. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A).
State brings this appeal under Indiana Code 35-38-4-2(5),
which authorizes the State to appeal an order granting a
motion to suppress if the order ultimately prevents further
prosecution of at least one charged count. This kind of
appeal, we have recognized, is one from a negative judgment.
See, e.g., State v. Brown, 70 N.E.3d 331,
334-35 (Ind. 2017); State v. Keck, 4 N.E.3d 1180,
1183 (Ind. 2014); State v. Washington, 898 N.E.2d
1200, 1202-03 (Ind. 2008); see also State v. Estep,
753 N.E.2d 22, 24-25, 24 n.5 (Ind.Ct.App. 2001); State v.
Ashley, 661 N.E.2d 1208, 1211 (Ind.Ct.App. 1995). A