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Man to get new trial on meth, marijuana charges

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An Elkhart man is entitled to a new trial on drug charges after the Indiana Court of Appeals found the police failed to “scrupulously honor” his right to remain silent.

Efren Mendoza-Vargas was charged and convicted of Class A felony dealing in methamphetamine, Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance and Class D felony possession of marijuana. The Elkhart County Interdiction and Covert Enforcement team executed a warrant at the home where Mendoza-Vargas lived. He was handcuffed while police searched the home. They found large amounts of money, methamphetamine and marijuana.

ICE employee Jennifer Gomez, who is fluent in English and Spanish, read Mendoza-Vargas his Miranda rights in Spanish. He said he understood these rights. He shook his head “no” as to whether he wanted to answer questions. But police kept asking him questions, even one about rubber bands found in the house. He was given a few minutes to decide whether he wanted to answer questions.

After 10 minutes, an officer asked Mendoza-Vargas if he could ask a question, then asked if his “contact” was in Indiana. Mendoza-Vargas then explained he got the drugs from Mexico.

Instead of immediately ceasing any questions after Mendoza-Vargas indicated he didn’t want to talk, police kept questioning him. And officers never re-read Mendoza-Vargas his Miranda rights again after he began answering questions, Judge Paul Mathias wrote.

The trial court abused its discretion when it admitted his statements to police into evidence because police “failed to scrupulously honor Mendoza-Vargas’s right to remain silent,” the judges held in Efren Mendoza-Vargas v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1201-CR-27.

This was not a harmless error, but he may be retired without the admittance of the statements to police.

 

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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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