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No error in sanctions against state

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A trial court didn't clearly err when it dismissed drunk driving charges against a defendant as sanctions for the state's discovery violations, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded today.

In State of Indiana v. Lindsey D. Schmitt, No. 87A04-0903-CR-151, the state appealed Warrick Superior Judge Keith A. Meier's decision to dismiss the criminal misdemeanor charges of operating while intoxicated pending against Lindsey Schmitt. The state claimed it was an error to dismiss the charges as a sanction for a discovery violation absent a showing of deliberate misconduct or bad faith.

But the trial court did consider the state's failure to respond as bad faith to the request for production of the arresting officer's training regarding administration of traffic stops; when he attended the Indiana State Police Academy; certificates or other supporting documentation as to when the arresting officer was last trained in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests; and supporting documentation regarding what National Highway Transportation Safety Administration manual the arresting officer uses and was trained under. According to the record, at the Jan. 16, 2009, hearing on Schmitt's motion to compel, the judge said if the state doesn't respond appropriately, he'd consider it bad faith on the part of the state, wrote Judge Paul Mathias.

The state had until Jan. 23, 2009, to produce that information and failed. At a hearing in March 2009 on Schmitt's motion to dismiss the charges, the trial court judge stated he didn't want to dismiss the case, but after a mountain of paperwork and numerous motions, Schmitt still didn't have the information she requested. The judge couldn't figure out why it took the state so long to get this information and noted the state had just started to get it around the time of the March hearing. Judge Meier was frustrated at the situation and said it shouldn't have occurred.

Judge Mathias noted that the state and Judge Meier had a similar discovery dispute involving Schmitt's attorney in another case.

The state was less than diligent in complying with the Jan. 16, 2009, order, and even though it had been warned that noncompliance would be considered bad faith, the state still hadn't provided the requested documents to Schmitt on the date the trial court dismissed the charges, wrote Judge Mathias. The charges against Schmitt had been pending for nearly a year on the date they were dismissed. Based on these facts, the trial court didn't err in dismissing the charges, he wrote.

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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