ILNews

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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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