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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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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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