Appellate court delays, blame

August 14, 2008
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From IL reporter Michael Hoskins, who attended today's arguments: 

The Indiana Supreme Court is delving into interesting issues that hit on speedy criminal trials and how appellate court delays have a role in that process. Of course, a comment made during arguments Thursday morning touches on appellate court efficiency and how that does, or doesn’t, impact the system.

Arguments can be viewed online here by clicking on the name of the case, Robert J. Pelley v. State. It is a South Bend case in which justices are being asked to reinstate four murder convictions against a Lakeville man accused of killing his family as a teenager two decades ago. At issue is how the local prosecutors, when filing charges in 2002, filed an interlocutory appeal based on a motion from a third party that sought to stop counseling records from being released to the state for use at trial. The appellate court stopped the trial from happening but held onto the appeal for two years, putting a wrench in the prosecutor’s plan to take it to trial within one year as Criminal Rule 4 spells out. Exceptions are if the defendant somehow caused the delay, or if an “emergency” or “court congestion” occurred. Those terms are being dissected and examined, as well as whether the one-year clock could have been stopped or should get some blanket rule as it relates to interlocutory appeals. The state says it’s not at fault for the delay. So does the defendant.

Toward the end of the arguments, Justice Ted Boehm made an interesting observation when the deputy attorney general was at the podium. He pointed out that the state could have asked for an expedited appeal from the COA, even though interlocutory appeals are already supposed to get that rushed attention. He then pressed the state for not directly calling the appellate court or clerk’s office to bring the timetable and Criminal Rule 4 running clock to the court’s attention. The deputy attorney general said the appellate court knew nothing was happening because of the stay and should have known the Criminal Rule 4 timetable based on the fact that this was an interlocutory appeal

Justice Boehm’s response: “You give us too much credit. You have to spell things out for us. We have a lot of paper to read up here.”

Interesting point, Your Honor. Particularly at a time when there’s discussion about new judges being added to the state’s intermediate appellate court. We’ve seen footnotes in some appellate rulings during the past year that highlight a handful of cases being delayed, specifically between the clerk’s office transmitting a case to the court. Later this month, lawmakers will be discussing whether a new panel should be added to the COA. This case aside, those discussions should be interesting.

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.