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COA tosses in absentia conviction of Army private

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A 20-year-old U.S. Army private had his conviction for underage drinking overturned because Hendricks Superior Court denied his motion for a continuance and held the trial while he was deployed in Afghanistan.

William Calvert was charged with illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, a Class C misdemeanor, after the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department found him and his friends drinking at a Plainfield residence.

The trial date was rescheduled several times both by the court acting on its own and by the defense attorney. One day before the hearing was set to begin, Calvert’s lawyer again notified the court that the defendant was serving overseas and filed another motion for a continuance.

The prosecution objected, noting the several previous continuances were creating an undue hardship for the state’s witness. The trial court denied the defense motion and proceeded to try Calvert in absentia. Subsequently, Calvert was found guilty and sentenced to 60 days and 58 days suspended.

Calvert appealed, arguing the trial court erred when it tried him in absentia.

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the conviction in William T. Calvert v. State of Indiana, 32A01-1312-CR-535.
 
“Here, Calvert’s deployment to Afghanistan justified a continuance of his trial,” Judge Edward Najam wrote for the court. “The State of Indiana cannot compel a defendant’s presence for a judicial proceeding while, at the same time, the United States compels his absence for active duty in military service overseas.”

The Court of Appeals was not persuaded by the state’s argument against the continuance because of the inconvenience the delay would cause for its witness. The COA noted any hardship was outweighed by the prejudice suffered by Calvert when he was denied the opportunity to be present at his trial.

 

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  • Diversify!
    Send Indiana another thousand Central America illegals ... we already have the legal system to which they are well accustomed. A banana republic without home grown bananas.
  • Deputy Prosecutor James Bryan Should Be Reported to the Disciplinary Commission
    This is quite heinous, from the COA opinion: ". . . the prosecuting attorney misrepresented to the trial court the timing of Calvert’s enlistment in the Army and his motion to continue the June trial, both of which facts were readily ascertainable." It appears Bryan actually told the court that the kid joined the Army after he was arrested , suggesting he did so to avoid prosecution. In fact, the private was an active duty soldier on leave at the time of his arrest. What a scumbag prosecutor.
  • Agreed
    To clarify, I agree with John Smith's comment: "The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW"
  • Agreed
    Wholeheartedly agree with this comment.
  • Legal preferences
    Welcome to Hendricks County where local and state statutes (especially Indiana Class C misdemeanors) are given a higher consideration than Federal statues and active duty military call-ups.
  • prosecutorial foolishness
    The case should have been spiked. Give the kid a break. He can serve and maybe die for Uncle Sam and can't have a drink? Wow. And they won't even let him defend himself. What a gross lack of prosecutorial oversight and judgment. WOW

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    1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

    2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

    3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

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    5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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