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Judges disagree on state's ability to appeal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals issued a divided ruling Thursday on whether the state could appeal the denial of its motion to correct error after the trial court granted a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The majority decided the state’s appeal should be dismissed as untimely.

In State of Indiana v. Elvis Holtsclaw, No. 49A02-1108-CR-743, Elvis Holtsclaw moved to suppress the chemical tests that supported his various drunk-driving charges. The trial court granted the motion, after which the state filed a motion to correct error within 30 days. The trial court denied that motion.

After the state dismissed the charges against Holtsclaw, it appealed the order granting the motion to suppress and the order denying the state’s motion to correct error.

In dismissing the appeal, Judges L. Mark Bailey and Carr Darden relied on the language of Indiana Code 35-38-4-2, which they said only confers on the state the authority to appeal an order granting a motion to correct error, not the authority to appeal from the denial of a motion to correct error.

Judge John Baker dissented because he didn’t read I.C. 35-38-4-2 as precluding the state from appealing. He said nothing in that statute stated or implied that Appellate Rule 9 shouldn’t apply to appeals initiated by the state.

“In my view, foreclosing the State from seeking redress through a more direct route, such as filing a motion to correct error in circumstances such as these, is simply not a sound application of the language embodied in Indiana Code section 35-38-4-2,” Baker wrote. “Moreover, I do not believe that our General Assembly intended the result reached by the majority in this circumstance when construing the provisions of Indiana Code section 35-38-4-2 and our court rules. Such a holding effectively elevates form over substance, which we are loathe to do.”

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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