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Court sets drug-court termination requirements

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An Indiana Court of Appeals ruling today sets requirements for drug court terminations after a man’s participation was terminated without minimum due process.

In Robert L. Gosha v. State of Indiana, No. 48A02-0912-CR-1210, the panel reversed Madison Superior Judge Dennis D. Carroll’s denial of a motion to correct error and remanded to the trial court.

Robert Gosha pleaded guilty Nov. 20, 2007, to operating a motor vehicle while privileges are forfeited for life, a Class C felony. The trial court sentenced him to eight years, with four years suspended to probation. Gosha admitted during a June 9, 2009, hearing to violating probation, and the court ordered the previously suspended four years be executed at the Indiana Department of Correction. However, the judge stayed the sanctions pending successful completion of a drug court program. The judge also ordered that if Gosha was removed from the program for any reason, the balance of the executed sentence would be automatically transferred to the DOC.

After he was admitted to the drug court program, cocaine residue and drug paraphernalia were allegedly found at Gosha’s house during a home visit. The drug court conducted a hearing and – without notice and without any evidence presented – terminated Gosha’s participation.

Gosha’s request for an evidentiary hearing was denied, as was his motion to correct error.

He claimed he did not receive minimum due process during the drug court hearing, and even the state conceded he was denied his right to due process. The appellate panel agreed.

Both the state and Gosha urged the appellate court to adopt the same due process requirements afforded defendants in probation-revocation proceedings. The court found support for that argument in Hopper v. State, 546 N.E.2d 106 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989), trans. denied.

Judge Edward Najam wrote, “The due process rights afforded a defendant in probation revocation proceedings, and which we now require for defendants participating in a Drug Court Program, are described as follows: written notice of the claimed violations, disclosure of the evidence against him, an opportunity to be heard and present evidence, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and a neutral and detached hearing body …. Cox v. State, 706 N.E.2d 547, 549 (Ind. 1999).”

“We remand to the trial court with instructions to conduct an evidentiary hearing, with written notice to Gosha of the claimed violations, disclosure of the evidence against him, an opportunity to be heard and to present evidence, and the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses,” the court wrote.
 

 
 

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