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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

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