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Judges disagree on remand instructions

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Indiana Court of Appeals judges unanimously agreed today that a defendant's petition for expungement of his arrest shouldn't have been denied by the trial court, but they disagreed as to what should happen on remand.

The trial court summarily denied Steven T. Gerber's petition for expungement of his arrest, but the trial court could only do this per statute if there was notice of opposition filed by the prosecutor or if it found Gerber's petition to be insufficient. The trial judge in his case rejected the petition without a hearing because the judge believed Gerber had to wait until the statute of limitations to file charges ran out before his arrest could be expunged. The prosecutor didn't file a notice of opposition nor did the judge find the petition to be insufficient.

In Steven T. Gerber v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-0902-CR-73, Judges Melissa May and Michael Barnes and Chief Judge John Baker agreed that the statute of limitations for an offense is not the appropriate guideline to determine whether a petition for expungement may be granted. The court noted there is no statute of limitations on a person arrested for any Class A felony, so someone falsely arrested may never have that arrest expunged.

Even though meaning of the term "insufficient" in the expungement statute remains unclear, Judge May remanded with instructions to either summarily grant Gerber's petition, set the matter for a hearing, or summarily deny the petition after finding it to be insufficient.

Judge May also concluded the prosecutor shouldn't be permitted to participate on remand. Even though the prosecutor failed to file a notice of opposition, the trial judge later allowed the prosecutor to file a brief opposing Gerber's petition.

Judge Barnes dissented from his colleagues with regards to the prosecutor's participation on remand. He wrote participation may take place in many shapes and forms and a blanket prohibition on participation by the prosecutor could unfairly, and perhaps unknowingly, inhibit conduct that would otherwise be helpful and proper.

In his dissent, Chief Judge Baker wrote the trial court shouldn't have the option to summarily deny Gerber's petition on remand because the trial judge didn't find his petition to be insufficient and no law enforcement agency filed a notice of opposition to the expungement.

"I see no reason to give the trial court a second chance to review Gerber's petition and change its decision; nothing in the underlying facts or law has changed since the trial court's initial order was entered," he wrote.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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