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Man’s additional charges should have been dismissed

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The Whitley Superior Court should have granted a defendant’s motion to dismiss two operating while intoxicated charges because the charges came after he pleaded guilty to two other charges relating to the same initial traffic stop.

When Cody Honeycutt was stopped by police, Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Reed smelled burnt marijuana on Honeycutt. Honeycutt also admitted to smoking the drug earlier in the day and handed a bag of it to the officer. Reed took Honeycutt for a blood draw, but while results of the test were pending, he pleaded guilty without counsel to Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana and a traffic infraction. He was sentenced to one year with all but eight days suspended.

When the results of the test came back a few days later, the state added two more charges under the same cause number: Class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated and Class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance in Honeycutt’s body. Now represented by an attorney, Honeycutt filed a motion dismiss on grounds they were barred by the Successive Prosecution Statute. The trial court denied it, and he was found guilty at a bench trial.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed. The state conceded that all four charges are connected, but it argued that it didn’t have probable cause to bring the operating charges at the same time as it brought the charge of possession of marijuana and traffic infraction.

The judges found there was probable cause to charge Honeycutt with the operating offenses at the same time, as Honeycutt had confessed to smoking the drug, there was marijuana on him, and based on the police sergeant’s observations of Honeycutt, Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Cody B. Honeycutt v. State of Indiana, 92A04-1203-CR-149.

“If the State believed that the lab results were the key piece of evidence it needed to file the operating charges, then it should have completed its investigation, dismissed the initially-filed Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana and traffic infraction, and filed all four charges at the same time,” she wrote.

The Court of Appeals also held that Honeycutt did not waive his argument, as the state claimed, because both the trial court and the prosecutor warned him before he pleaded guilty that he could face more charges depending on the pending lab results.

 

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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.

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