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Court affirms delay in jury trial for congestion

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a defendant's arguments that because his request for a speedy trial was in writing, his trial should take priority over another man's trial scheduled for the same day.

In Daniel E. Wilkins v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-0804-CR-190, the appellate court affirmed Daniel Wilkins' convictions of robbery, criminal confinement, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. The Court of Appeals ruled the trial court didn't violate his right to a speedy trial when it delayed Wilkins' jury trial on a finding of court congestion.

Wilkins' request for a speedy trial was granted and his trial was scheduled for Nov. 7, 2007. At a pretrial conference, the court discovered a scheduling conflict with the defense counsel and prosecutors because the trial of Leon Kyles was scheduled the same day and they were to appear in that trial, too.

On Nov. 7, the trial court continued Wilkins' trial due to court congestion when it discovered that Kyles had asked for an early trial one day before Wilkins. With no objection, Wilkins' trial was rescheduled and he was convicted in February 2008.

Since Wilkins didn't raise an objection, he waived his claim on appeal. However, his appeal would also fail because he didn't show the court erred in delaying his trial due to court congestion. Wilkins argued that his request should have taken priority because his and Kyles' requests were made "virtually at the same time" and he made his request in writing whereas Kyles made a verbal request.

The Court of Appeals rejected his argument because Ind. Criminal Rule 4(B) makes no requirement that requests be made in writing and the motions were not filed at the same time. The appellate court also found Wilkins' reliance on Bowers v. State, 717 N.E.2d 242, 245 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), to be misplaced.

The issue of whether appellate delays constitute court congestion or an emergency as it relates to a defendant's speedy trial rights is currently pending before the Indiana Supreme Court. The high court granted transfer in August 2008 to Robert J. Pelley v. State, No. 71A05-0612-CR-726, in which the Court of Appeals reversed Pelley's four murder convictions and held the state's interlocutory appeal was chargeable to the state for purposes of the speedy trial rule, thus making Pelley entitled to a discharge.

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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.

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