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COA: Trial delays not defendant's fault

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a motion for discharge pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(C) because the court incorrectly attributed delays to the defendant.

In Chad Gibson v. State of Indiana, No. 06A04-0903-CR-150, Chad Gibson filed a motion for discharge on July 31, 2008, because more than a year had passed since charges were first filed against him. He was charged in April 2007 with operating while intoxicated and operating a vehicle with at least 0.15 percent blood alcohol content.

Chronological case summary entries showed between July 23, 2007, and May 5, 2008, Gibson was granted several continuances and the bench trial/status was reset. During those times, Gibson never entered the courtroom, didn't ask for a continuance, and only met with a prosecutor about a possible plea agreement. In May 2008, Gibson requested a contested bench trial, which was set for July 25, 2008. The bench trial was later moved to Oct. 10, 2008, based on Gibson's counsel planning on filing a written motion for continuance. The written notice was never submitted.

At trial Gibson was found guilty and sentenced to one year, all suspended to probation.

The trial court, in denying Gibson's motion, attributed the delays to Gibson based on the CCS entries stating "Defendant is granted a continuance." While the CCS is the official record of the trial court, it's not an accurate record of what occurred in the instant case, the appellate court ruled.

A defendant can overcome the presumption that the trial court finding of court congestion is valid by showing the finding was factually or legally inaccurate, wrote Judge Margret Robb. Gibson testified at the discharge hearing he never requested a continuance and appeared in court twice to accept a guilty plea offered by the state, but it wasn't able to be completed. On Feb. 11, 2008, the prosecutor assigned to his case wasn't at court. The trial court even acknowledged the CCS entry for that date was erroneous in stating Gibson was granted a continuance, wrote the judge.

There's also no indication Gibson ever did anything within the one-year period to prevent the state from bringing him to trial. The trial court claimed the CCS entries make it clear that all but one of the re-settings were the result of Gibson's action, but the CCS entries in the instant case weren't reliable, wrote Judge Robb. Also, the trial court's decision effectively placed the burden on Gibson to ensure he was brought to trial within one year. On May 5, 2008, when he requested a contested bench trial be set, the one-year period had already run so he had no obligation to object to the setting of the trial date, she wrote.

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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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