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Majority upholds habitual traffic violator conviction

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Four justices found that Indiana Code 9-30-10-16 indicating when a person commits a Class D felony while driving with a suspended license is not unconstitutionally vague and evidence supports a man’s conviction of Class D felony operating a motor vehicle as a habitual traffic violator.

At issue is whether Michael Lock’s conviction can be upheld when the only evidence admitted at trial as to whether his Honda Zuma’s “maximum design speed” exceeded 25 MPH was that Lock was clocked by radar going 43 MPH on a flat, dry surface. The state’s motor vehicle statutes allow someone with suspended driving privileges to operate motorized bicycles as long as certain requirements are met. One is that the vehicle’s “maximum design speed,” which isn’t defined, does not exceed 25 MPH.

Lock appealed his conviction, arguing the habitual traffic violator statute is unconstitutionally vague and that the evidence didn’t support his conviction. Only addressing the evidence issue, the Court of Appeals reversed in a split opinion.

But the majority of justices upheld Lock’s conviction, finding the statute is not unconstitutional. The justices looked at how an ordinary person would interpret the statute, finding one would interpret the statutory definition of “motorized bicycle” to exclude any devices having a highest possible speed – as conceived of, planned or devised – of more than 25 MPH, Justice Mark Massa wrote. It’s possible that the manufacturer could design the bicycle to not go more than 25 MPH, but after-market modifications could be made. This is probably why the Legislature used the broader term of “maximum design speed” over “maximum manufacture’s design speed,” Massa pointed out.

The majority also found the stipulation that Lock was clocked driving 43 MPH supported his conviction.

Justice Robert Rucker believed the state didn’t prove the elements of Class D felony operating a vehicle while suspended, so he would reverse. He didn’t address the constitutional issue.

“I would read Indiana Code section 9-13-2-109 evincing the Legislature’s intent to exclude those motorized bicycles which, among other things, a manufacturer has designed to travel safely at a maximum speed no greater than twenty-five miles an hour,” he wrote. “That is not to say that the vehicle is incapable of traveling in excess of that speed. Indeed it may very well do so, even if it means damage to the engine or other component parts.”

Construing the statute this way means that the actual speed Lock was traveling has no relevance to the question of “maximum design speed,” he wrote.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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