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Judges, prosecutor at odds over 12-hour rule for Indy arrestees

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Marion Superior judges Friday delayed enacting a policy opposed by Prosecutor Terry Curry that would ensure major felony suspects a probable cause determination within 12 hours of arrest.

Judge Lisa Borges said at a meeting of the Marion Superior Executive Committee that criminal judges officially backed the policy recommended by the Indianapolis Office of Corporation Counsel, since currently those arrested for less serious offenses already receive a determination within 12 hours. Borges said people arrested on suspicion of major felonies are immediately transported to the Marion County Jail after processing.

Borges said representatives of the prosecutor’s office voiced their objections to the policy during public meetings, but judges were acting on recommendations from county attorneys who advised that the county could be liable for having different standards for similarly situated arrestees.

If the policy were enacted, Borges said, suspects would be released if there was no probable cause determination within 12 hours of arrest.

Executive Committee Chairman Judge David Certo criticized Curry for sending judges an email about an hour before the committee meeting requesting enactment of the policy change be delayed. Certo encouraged Curry to explain to the committee why the policy shouldn’t be adopted at its next meeting July 8.

“I would expect the elected prosecutor in this room,” Marion Superior Criminal Division 9 Judge Marc Rothenberg said.

“It is not unknown in the community what the legal ramifications might be” of holding an arrestee longer than 12 hours without a PC determination, Rothenberg said.

“We have a responsibility as a court,” he said. “…It’s frustrating we can’t get it done now.”

Judges grudgingly delayed acting on the proposal and Certo said that as a courtesy the committee should give Curry an opportunity to explain why the courts shouldn’t adopt the rule.

Judges James Osborn and John Chavis said the courts also have an obligation to protect public safety, and that the committee should allow Curry to present any concerns that may not have previously been raised.

Chavis said he was sensitive to the need to ensure timely release of people wrongly arrested, but he said public safety also needs to be weighed. “I think there are valid concerns on both sides,” he said.

The committee’s next public meeting is at noon July 8 in Room 1221 of the City-County Building.  
 

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