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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. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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