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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 just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

    2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

    3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

    4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

    5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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