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Judges reverse speeding infraction due to lack of proof

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A driver pulled over in Clark County for speeding was able to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday that the infraction should be reversed because the state couldn’t prove its case.

Brian Byrd was pulled over for speeding by Clark County Deputy Sheriff Donovan Harrod, issuing a citation alleging Byrd violated I.C. 9-21-5-2 by driving 54 mph on a road having a prima facie speed of 30 mph. At trial, Harrod testified that the speed limits on Brown Station Way where Byrd was driving varied from 30 mph to 45 mph and back to 40 mph.

Byrd’s defense produced a photograph purportedly taken near the boat marina where Byrd was pulled over that showed a 45 mph speed sign. Harrod conceded that he “may have made a mistake” as to where [the speed limit] “turns into 45.” He also suggested that the photograph “could be wrong” and clarified that he had “said approximately that area” in his preceding testimony.

The prosecutor then described the state’s allegation as Byrd having traveled nine miles over the speed limit by going 54 mph. Byrd countered that he had his cruise control set to 45 mph upon entering Brown Station Way.

The trial court found him guilty of “Speeding 50/45” and ordered him to pay $154.

According to Indiana Code section 9-21-8-53(a), Byrd was entitled to specific allegations of his speed and location and the applicable prima facie or fixed speed applicable within the district or at the location. He was entitled to have those elements established by a preponderance of the evidence,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in Brian Byrd v. State of Indiana, 10A01-1309-IF-383. “The State provided the requisite specificity, but alleged only that Byrd violated Indiana Code section 9-21-5-2 by driving 54 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone. The evidence adduced did not establish the violation alleged. And the State’s concession to, but without proof of, an alternative fixed speed limit results in a failure of proof.”

 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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