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Justices clarify previous decision on Criminal Rule 4(B)

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The Indiana Supreme Court clarified the ambiguity within its precedent on the issue of whether an incarcerated defendant has the right to be tried within 70 days under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(B) when the defendant is being held for an unrelated offense and not on the charges for which the speedy trial is demanded.

In Mickey Cundiff v. State of Indiana, No. 31S05-1108-CR-512, the state charged Cundiff on Dec. 21, 2009, with drunk driving offenses and he was released from incarceration after posting bond on Jan. 11, 2010. Shortly thereafter he was incarcerated on a probation-revocation case. On March 15, he filed a motion for speedy trial relating to the drunk driving case, relying on Criminal Rule 4(B). In July, the trial court held a hearing on the motion and denied it in August. He was found guilty of Class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated at the bench trial.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, although there has been a split in the panel on this issue. The justices used the Cundiff appeal to revisit its decision in Poore v. State, 685 N.E.2d 36 (Ind. 1997), in which the court held that Criminal Rule 4(B) applied to retrials of habitual-offender counts and so the defendant was entitled to discharge. Justice Steven David wrote that the opinion supports a holding that the rule applies only if a defendant is being held on the charge for which he requests a speedy trial. The ruling also supports a holding that as long as the defendant is in jail on the pending charge, Criminal Rule 4(B) applies to that charge, even if the defendant is also being held for another reason.

Poore did not extend the applicability of that rule to defendants who are not being held on the pending charge for which the speedy trial is requested but for a different reason altogether, he wrote. The confusion in what Poore held may have stemmed from the cases it relied on, David pointed out.

Criminal Rule 4(B) was not available to Cundiff on the pending charges for which he sought a speedy trial because he wasn’t incarcerated on those charges.

 

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