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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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