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Toxicology lab witness’s failure to appear dooms drunken-driving conviction

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A Tennessee man’s drunken-driving conviction in Shelby Superior Court was tossed because his trial took place more than a year after his arrest, largely due to a toxicology lab worker’s failure to appear for scheduled depositions, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

Shelbyville police arrested Halden Martin in the early morning of July 17, 2010, on Interstate 74 as he crossed over the center line several times. Martin told police he had been drinking at Indiana Grand Casino for several hours.

Martin failed field sobriety tests but refused to submit to a breath test. He was arrested and charged with Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated. A search warrant was obtained for a blood test, but court documents show the State Department of Toxicology didn’t return blood-test results for almost eight months.

After multiple continuances attributable to both side, Martin moved in March 2012 to dismiss pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C) because 608 days had passed. The trial court denied the motion, and at a bench trial in June 2012 convicted Martin and sentenced him to a year in prison with all but 30 days suspended to probation.

But Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote for the court in Halden Martin v. State of Indiana, 73A01-1207-CR-300, that the key delays came when a state witness from the toxicology department failed to show for scheduled depositions.

“What this boils down to is what party should bear the responsibility of a State’s witness not showing up to two scheduled depositions at which the witness was subpoenaed both times. Martin says the State Department of Toxicology told him that Anderson was ‘unavailable’ both times, and the State does not offer a contrary explanation on appeal,” Vaidik wrote.

“We find that the balance tips in favor of Martin and therefore conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in charging the delay to him,” Vaidik wrote, recalculating the delay to 476 days. “Because the days that count toward the Rule 4(C) period exceed 365, the trial court should have granted Martin’s motion for discharge. We therefore reverse the trial court and remand for vacation of his conviction.”

 

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  1. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  2. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  3. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

  4. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  5. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

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