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Justices divided over vacating transfer in case seeking severance of offenses

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Justice Robert Rucker wrote an 11-page dissent from his colleagues after three justices decided to vacate transfer to an appeal stemming from charges involving the alleged sexual assault of four victims.

Quanardel Wells was charged in 2009 in an 11-count information with various offenses arising out of the alleged assault of four victims on four different occasions. He sought interlocutory review of the trial court’s order denying his motion for severance of offenses pursuant to Indiana Code 35-41-1-11. In September 2011, the Court of Appeals upheld the denial of Wells’ motion to sever over his arguments that he is entitled to the severance of the charges in order to promote a fair determination of the merits of his case.

The justices granted transfer on Feb. 2, 2012, but Justices Steven David, Mark Massa and Loretta Rush decided to vacate transfer Feb. 21 after further review.

In his dissent, joined by Chief Justice Brent Dickson, Rucker believed this case provided the justices “the opportunity to provide guidance and clarity on an area of the law in need of both.”

He discussed the interplay between statutory severance and the Indiana Rules of Evidence. Rucker would grant transfer and remand to the trial court for a hearing to determine whether the offenses with respect to each alleged victim are of the same or similar character; whether evidence of each of the offenses is relevant to some material issue at trial of all the other offenses under Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b); and whether the evidence of the other offenses even though relevant should be excluded under Indiana Evidence Rule 403.

If the hearing reveals that evidence of the offenses for which Wells is charged would be inadmissible in separate trials of the same offenses, then he would be entitled to severance as a matter of right under Indiana Code 35-34-1-1. Otherwise Wells would not be so entitled, he wrote.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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