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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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