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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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