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Judges find court should have granted expungement

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Finding that the word “shall” in Indiana Code 35-38-9-2(d) is mandatory language requiring expungement, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a man’s petition to expunge his 2004 misdemeanor sexual misconduct with a minor conviction.

The issue in Jason Taylor v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1310-CR-406, is while I.C. 35-38-9-2, which applies to misdemeanor convictions, may appear clear and unambiguous on its face, it is ambiguous when read in conjunction with I.C. 35-38-9-9(d), which requires the court to consider the victim’s statement before making its determination. Section 2 says that the court “shall order the conviction records described in subsection (b) expunged in accordance with section 6 of this chapter,” as long as conditions outlined in the section are met.

The trial judge denied Jason Taylor’s request to expunge his Class A misdemeanor conviction based on the victim’s testimony. Taylor met all the other conditions outlined in Section 2 and the state agreed his conviction should be expunged.

He pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge as a Class D felony that was later reduced to the Class A misdemeanor.

The interpretation of Section 2 is an issue of first impression for the appeals court.

“We agree with Taylor that Section 35-38-9-2(d) unambiguously requires expungement when all of the statutory requirements are satisfied. Section 35-38-9-2(d) states that the trial court ‘shall order’ the conviction records expunged when all statutory requirements are met. Had the legislature intended the expungement of conviction records under Section 35-38-9-2(d) to be discretionary, it would have used the word ‘may’ instead of the word ‘shall,’” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

This decision does not render Section 9-9(d) meaningless, as the state had argued, because it applies to other sections under Chapter 9 where the trial court is required to consider a victim’s testimony before granting expungement, Vaidik continued.
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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