ILNews

Court: Conference constitutes 'congestion'

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A Marion Superior judge didn't err by continuing a jury trial because a mandatory judicial conference resulted in too few judges and magistrates being available, the Indiana Supreme Court has reiterated in an order.

In the order issued Oct. 16, justices denied a woman's request for a writ of mandamus.

The case involved a woman's felony domestic battery charge and the subsequent speedy trial she requested. After her arrest in July and a bond hearing that month, she made the procedural request and the trial court - Marion Superior Criminal Division 16 - set her trial for Sept. 17. However, there were too few judicial officers available to handle Roxie Brown's trial because the court calendar didn't lighten as usual and a statutorily mandated Indiana Judicial Conference in Indianapolis Sept. 16-18.

Judge Kimberly Brown continued the proceeding because of court congestion until the "next earliest reasonable time" - Oct. 22; after hearings denying a change, Roxie Brown filed a writ request Oct. 5.

Roxie Brown argued that the trial court's scheduling of her hearing on one of the conference dates rendered the trial date "meaningless" and said she should be released through speedy trial Criminal Rule 4(b), which requires a trial within 70 days unless there's a reasonable continuance or another specific delay. But the Indiana Attorney General's Office disagreed, writing in its opposition brief that the notion was absurd and court officers could have been available if they'd been able to condense the calendar, as often happens in the months between the scheduling and the proceeding itself.

The issue isn't new. The Indiana Court of Appeals considered the issue more than a decade ago, when it decided Sholar v. State, 626 N.E.2d 547, 549 (Ind. 1993). That decision found no abuse in a trial court's discretion by delaying the trial because of a judicial conference judges and magistrates were required to attend.

If Roxie Brown continues to dispute the scheduling and continuance of her speedy trial process, the AG's Office suggested in its brief that she could raise the issue on appeal.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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