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Justices divided over vacating transfer in drug case

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Three of the five Indiana justices have decided that the Indiana Court of Appeals decision in Andrew Humphreys’ case challenging his habitual offender adjudication should stand, so they voted to vacate transfer granted in December.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson and Justices Steven David and Mark Massa decided March 28 after oral arguments and further review that the Supreme Court should not have assumed jurisdiction over Andrew Humphreys v. State of Indiana, 79S04-1212-CR-670. The three reinstated the not-for-publication decision by the Court of Appeals that found the Tippecanoe Superior Court erred in applying a 16-year sentence for Humphreys’ adjudication as a habitual offender.

Humphreys appealed his convictions and sentences for Class B felonies conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine and dealing meth and Class D felony illegal drug lab, as well as his habitual offender adjudication. The appellate judges concluded that Humphreys could be adjudicated as a habitual offender because he was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture meth, which isn’t a drug offense for purposes of I.C. 35-50-2-8(b)(3). But the trial court should not have treated the habitual offender adjudication as a separate crime for which a separate sentence should be imposed. The judges ordered the court to specify which of the methamphetamine-related convictions is enhanced by the adjudication.

Justices Loretta Rush and Robert Rucker disagreed with their colleagues, with Rush writing a 3-page dissent.

“The Court of Appeals held that even though Defendant’s sentence for actually dealing methamphetamine may not be enhanced under our habitual offender statute, his sentence for conspiracy to deal may be. It based that conclusion on Owens v. State, 929 N.E.2d 754 (Ind. 2010), when Owens actually compels the opposite conclusion – not just because penal statutes must be strictly construed against the State, but as a matter of legislative intent. I would therefore reverse Defendant’s sentence enhancement,” she explained.

 

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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