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Judges uphold theft charge against man

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On interlocutory appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a man’s motion to dismiss his theft charge in Jay County because he caused the delay in the case by absconding. The case brought up the issue of whether knowledge by jail officials on the whereabouts of the defendant can mean that the judge and prosecutor were sufficiently notified.

George Feuston was arrested in Jay County and charged with Class D felony theft on May 3, 2009. While out on bond, he didn’t appear for his pretrial conference and was arrested in Delaware County on an unrelated charge in August 2009. In August 2010, Feuston filed a motion requesting a discharge of his theft charge pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C) because more than a year had passed since he was arrested in Jay County. In an October 2010 motion, he attached a purported fax correspondence between the Delaware and Jay County jails showing that Jay County jail officials knew he was in the Delaware County jail, but there’s not chronological case summary entry in his Jay County case around the time the fax was sent.

The trial court denied his motion, concluding that he was responsible for all the delay from the time of his pre-trial hearing until August 2010 when he filed his motion.

In George A. Feuston v. State of Indiana, No. 38A02-1011-CR-1175, the judges affirmed the denial of his motion for discharge. The judges rejected his argument that his whereabouts is irrelevant because the trial court could set a trial date regardless of whether he is present, citing Schwartz v. State, 708 N.E.2d 34 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999). But Schwartz says that when the record is silent as for the reason for the delay, it won’t be charged to the defendant.

Judge Terry Crone wrote that the court was not inclined to create duty on the trial courts that they must fill their calendars with “place holder” trial dates for defendants who haven’t appeared or whose whereabouts are unknown.

The judges also discussed the issue of whether the Jay County jail officials had knowledge of Feuston’s location based on the fax presented by Feuston. The majority concluded that knowledge of a police office or correctional officer shouldn’t be imputed to the trial court or prosecutor in these circumstances, citing State ex rel. Johnson v. Kohlmeyer, 261 Ind. 244, 303 N.E.2d 661 (Ind. 1973).
 
Feuston didn’t present any evidence that the trial court or prosecutor knew where he was before he filed his August 2010 motion, so he hasn’t shown he’s entitled to discharge. In addition, he does not have clean hands in the matter since the prosecutor and court lost track of him because he absconded, wrote Judge Crone.

Chief Judge Margret Robb concurred in result because she felt the majority hold was too broad. She wrote that if there was indisputable evidence that jail officials knew where Feuston was and that he was incarcerated in Delaware County, the trial court and prosecutor were sufficiently notified of his whereabouts to begin the Rule 4(C) clock running as of that date.

But in this case, there is only evidence suggesting that the Jay County Jail became aware of his incarceration and the burden is on Feuston to support his claims, which he did not do, she wrote.

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  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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