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Vehicle forfeiture order affirmed despite state’s yearlong delay

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A convicted cocaine dealer failed to convince a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals that summary judgment forfeiture of his yellow 2004 Hummer was a violation of trial rules, even though the state’s motion for summary judgment was in response to a court show cause order due to case inactivity for more than a year.

Pro se appellant Victor Hugo Mesa argued the forfeiture of his vehicle violated multiple rules and that he was entitled to a hearing before the forfeiture. The state alleged Mesa purchased the vehicle with proceeds from dealing cocaine.

Jackson Circuit Judge William E. Vance last June issued the forfeiture order on the state’s summary judgment hearing. The Court of Appeals affirmed Tuesday in Victor Hugo Mesa v. State of Indiana, 36A01-1308-MI-362, finding no merit in Mesa’s argument that he was entitled to a hearing or that the matter should have been dismissed.

“Because Mesa did not (1) properly request a summary judgment hearing, or (2) designate any evidence to show that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the vehicle was seizable under Indiana Code § 34-24-1-1(a)(3), the trial court did not err by granting summary judgment to the State,” Judge Rudy R. Pyle III wrote for the majority, joined by Judge Cale Bradford.

Judge Paul Mathias wrote a concurring opinion “to emphasize that Mesa’s complete failure to designate any evidence to contradict that designated by the State in its motion for summary judgment negated any reason for a hearing.”

The majority noted, however, that a case pending before the Indiana Supreme Court – Detona Sargent v. State, 985 N.E.2d 1108 (Ind. Ct. App. 2013), reh’g denied, trans. granted – was argued March 20 and involves forfeiture of a vehicle on summary judgment.   

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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