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Trial court's suppression order binding to ethics commission

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After turning to the Indiana State Ethics Commission when a trial court ordered the evidence in a theft case suppressed, the state was reminded it “does not get a second bite at the apple.”   

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s reversal of the ethics commission’s ruling in Indiana State Ethics Commission, an agency of the State of Indiana, Office of Inspector General, an agency of the State of Indiana, and David Thomas, in his official capacity as Inspector General v. Patricia Sanchez, 49A02-1301-PL-12.
 
The state of Indiana, through the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, filed felony theft charges against Patricia Sanchez for keeping state property after she was dismissed from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Officials had found the missing items in her home and car.

However, the trial court granted Sanchez’s motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds the search warrant was obtained and executed based on stale information.

The state did not appeal the suppression order, and the prosecutor dismissed the charges.

Then the state, through the Office of the Inspector General, filed a complaint with the ethics commission. It did not tell the commission about the suppression order.

Again, Sanchez filed a motion to suppress the evidence, but the commission denied it. The commission then found Sanchez had violated the Indiana Administrative Code’s prohibition against the personal use of state property, and it barred her from future employment with the state.

Sanchez filed a petition for judicial review in the trial court. The court reversed the commission, concluding the suppression order constituted a binding decision on the question of probable cause and that the ethics commission had no discretion to ignore that order.

On appeal, the state argued the ethics commission had exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether probable cause existed to proceed to a public hearing on the complaint.

“We are not persuaded that the Ethics Commission is in a better position – let alone an exclusive one – than Indiana’s trial courts to determine probable cause,” Judge Edward Najam wrote. “But, even if it were, an agency’s special expertise does not allow it to ignore its privy’s prior, adequate representation of the same issue before a competent tribunal.”

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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