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COA orders judge grant motion for bail bond reduction

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Even though the severity of the 13 charges against a Knox County man for his role in several home invasions supports setting his bond at $25,000 cash only, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court should have allowed him to post a percentage of that to bond out.

Tommi Emerson Winn was arrested and charged with 13 counts of burglary. He and two other men broke into homes, stole jewelry and pawned some of it. They also converted stolen change into bills at a Wal-Mart. The trial court set his bond at $25,000 cash and denied Winn’s motion to reduce so he could post 10 percent of that to secure his release from jail.

Winn argued – and others testified in support – that he was not a flight risk, lived in Knox County most of his life, and had not failed to appear for a court appearance.

When setting the amount of bond under Indiana Code 35-33-8-4(b), subsection 7, the nature and gravity of the offense and potential penalty faced, is enough to warrant a refusal to reduce the amount of bail, the Court of Appeals pointed out. However, the other nine subsections, including family ties and relationships and source of funds or property to be used to post bail, weigh in Winn’s favor.

The record shows that Winn could not post the entire $25,000 in cash, so by denying his motion, the trial judge condemned him to jail pending trial without articulating why, Senior Judge Carr Darden wrote in Tommi Emerson Winn v. State of Indiana, 42A04-1201-CR-49. The judge used the words “cash only” but didn’t give his reasoning for the limitation.

Darden and Judge Ezra Friedlander ordered the trial judge to grant Winn’s motion. Judge Elaine Brown concurred in result, noting that the judge should also consider the use of real estate or posting a real estate bond, as allowed under I.C. 35-33-8-3.2.

 

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  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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