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COA: State didn't bring man to trial within 1 year

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a defendant's motion for discharge under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C), finding the state failed to bring him to trial within one year.

In Delmar Caldwell v. State of Indiana, No. 75A03-0908-CR-393, Delmar Caldwell appealed the denial of his motion to discharge after the trial court found the one-year period to bring him to trial for an alleged drunk driving offense in July 2007 hadn't begun to run until he was ordered to appear by summons for his initial hearing in February 2009.

Caldwell was arrested July 4, 2007, and charges were filed July 10, 2007. A warrant for his arrest and subsequent summons to be issued for Caldwell's appearance were prepared by the clerk of the court, but never delivered to the sheriff for service. Caldwell only learned of the Feb. 13, 2009, initial hearing on his case from a friend who saw his name on the court docket. Caldwell appeared and pleaded not guilty. His trial was set for April 29, 2009.

Under Criminal Rule 4(C), the state had to bring Caldwell to trial by July 10, 2008; the state argues the later of the triggering dates under the rule was his appearance at the Feb. 13 hearing. The state based its opinion on State ex rel. Penn v. Criminal Court of Marion County, Division III, 270 Ind. 687, 389 N.E.2d 21 (1979), in which the Indiana Supreme Court upheld the denial of a defendant's motion for discharge. In Penn, the defendant was arrested after the filing of charges.

But the Court of Appeals instead followed the holdings of Holt v. State, 262 Ind. 334, 316 N.E.2d 362 (1974), and Maxey v. State, 265 Ind. 244, 353 N.E.2d, 457 (1976). In those cases, just as in Caldwell's case, the defendants were arrested before the filing of indictments against them, so the filing of the charges were the start of the one-year period to bring them to trial.

A voluntary appearance at an initial hearing isn't a triggering event under Criminal Rule 4(C). The appellate court also rejected the state's argument that Caldwell's appearance at the hearing was the first time he was under authority of the court.

"Finally, under the State's argument, the State's delay in effecting a second arrest subsequent to the filing of the formal charges would extend the commencement of the one-year period indefinitely and would undermine the very purpose that Crim.R. 4(C) was designed to accomplish - the constitutional guaranty of a speedy trial," wrote Judge James Kirsch.

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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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