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Judges find court should have granted expungement

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Finding that the word “shall” in Indiana Code 35-38-9-2(d) is mandatory language requiring expungement, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a man’s petition to expunge his 2004 misdemeanor sexual misconduct with a minor conviction.

The issue in Jason Taylor v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1310-CR-406, is while I.C. 35-38-9-2, which applies to misdemeanor convictions, may appear clear and unambiguous on its face, it is ambiguous when read in conjunction with I.C. 35-38-9-9(d), which requires the court to consider the victim’s statement before making its determination. Section 2 says that the court “shall order the conviction records described in subsection (b) expunged in accordance with section 6 of this chapter,” as long as conditions outlined in the section are met.

The trial judge denied Jason Taylor’s request to expunge his Class A misdemeanor conviction based on the victim’s testimony. Taylor met all the other conditions outlined in Section 2 and the state agreed his conviction should be expunged.

He pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge as a Class D felony that was later reduced to the Class A misdemeanor.

The interpretation of Section 2 is an issue of first impression for the appeals court.

“We agree with Taylor that Section 35-38-9-2(d) unambiguously requires expungement when all of the statutory requirements are satisfied. Section 35-38-9-2(d) states that the trial court ‘shall order’ the conviction records expunged when all statutory requirements are met. Had the legislature intended the expungement of conviction records under Section 35-38-9-2(d) to be discretionary, it would have used the word ‘may’ instead of the word ‘shall,’” Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote.

This decision does not render Section 9-9(d) meaningless, as the state had argued, because it applies to other sections under Chapter 9 where the trial court is required to consider a victim’s testimony before granting expungement, Vaidik continued.
 

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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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