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Court erred in striking state’s response as untimely

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday that the post-conviction court erred in striking as untimely the state’s response to a man’s motion for summary judgment on his post-conviction relief petition. The judges also refused to grant the state’s request to hold that it is relieved of the time constraints of Indiana Trial Rule 56.

In State of Indiana v. Antonio Gonzalez-Vazquez, 09A02-1210-PC-792, the state appealed the denial of its motion to correct error challenging the grant of summary judgment to Antonio Gonzalez-Vazquez on his petition for post-conviction relief. Gonzalez-Vazquez alleged he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

Gonzalez-Vazquez’s convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. He filed his petition for post-conviction relief in 2011 and filed his motion for summary judgment pursuant to Trial Rule 56 and Post-Conviction Rule 1(4)(g) on July 17, 2012. The state received his motion by certified mail.

On Aug. 20, the state requested an extension of time to respond; the court gave the state until Aug. 24, when it filed its response. Gonzalez-Vazquez claimed the state’s request for more time and its response were untimely; the state countered that the motion for enlargement of time was timely because the state was entitled to add three days for mail service based on Trial Rule 6(E) and the 33rd day fell on a Sunday.

The post-conviction court rejected the state’s argument and granted summary judgment for Gonzalez-Vazquez. That court excluded the state’s response on the grounds that Rule 6(E) was inapplicable, but that was erroneous as a matter of law, the judges ruled, citing DeLage Landen Fin. Servs. Inc v. Cmty. Mental Health Ctr., 965 N.E.2d 693 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012).

The state also argued that Trial Rule 56(C) and (I) shouldn’t be applicable to post-conviction proceedings because “significant prosecutions could be undone without any basis simply because a prosecutor’s office fails to respond in thirty days.” The state pointed to PCR 1(4)(g) that gives the trial court discretion to consider all pleadings and other matters, whereas Rule 56(C) limits consideration to the designated evidentiary matter.

“We are not in a position to carve out an exception to redress the State’s concern that mere negligence on its part might result in a windfall to a petitioner and a danger to the public,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote.

“Although the State may have a valid concern that a lack of diligent responses in post-conviction proceedings could result in the reversal of some criminal convictions, it would be an extremely rare occasion upon which a petitioner would be able to show an absence of an issue of material fact and further show his entitlement to judgment as a matter of law without a hearing and the presentation of evidence. Indeed, in this particular case, Vazquez focused upon alleged omissions but largely ignored the requirement of showing prejudice. In light of the foregoing, we decline the State’s invitation to hold that it is relieved of the time constraints of Trial Rule 56.”

 

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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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