Justices to hear arguments in Evansville ‘military-style assault’ case

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Indiana’s Supreme Court is set to hear cases Thursday involving the withdrawal of guilty pleas, the use of search warrants and the revocation of good-time credit.

The high court will first hear the case of Cody Mikework v. State of Indiana, 04A03-1605-CR-01122, on petition to transfer at 9 a.m. After initially pleading guilty to one count of Level 5 felony burglary and three counts of Level 4 felony arson, Cody Mikework moved to withdraw his guilty plea, but both the trial court and Indiana Court of Appeals denied his motion.

Mikework has petitioned the high court to grant transfer to his case because he claims the trial court violated his rights under Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969), which holds the record for a guilty plea must show the defendant voluntarily and knowingly waived the right to the privilege against compulsory incrimination, the right to a jury trial and the right to confront one’s accusers. According to Mikework’s petition to transfer, “the record indicates that the trial court read out loud only two of the three required Boykin rights, neglecting to mention the right of confrontation.”

After the Mikework case, the court will move on to two cases for which transfer has already been granted. First, the justices will hear the case of Mario Watkins v. State of Indiana, 82S01-1704-CR-00191, in which Mario Watkins was convicted on various felony and misdemeanor drug convictions after a “military-style assault” on his Evansville home led to the discovery of various narcotics and a weapon.

A divided Indiana Court of Appeals reversed those convictions, finding the assault on Watkins’ home, which included the use of a flash bang, was unreasonable. The majority held in a January opinion that Evansville police could have presented Watkins with a search warrant that had already been issued to gain access to his home, rather than using the flash bang and a battering ram.

Oral arguments in Watkins’ case will begin at 9:45 a.m.

Finally, the court will hear the case of Richard Shepard v. State of Indiana, 84S01-1704-CR-00190, which involves the question of whether a man whose placement in a county community corrections program should have been awarded good-time credit.

According to the state, the answer is “no,” as Richard Shepard lost 225 days of credit as a sanction for violating various community corrections rules. Though he was originally entitled to 190 days of credit, Shepard’s 225-day sanction zeroed out the days he had earned, the state argued.

Shepard, however, contends only the Department of Correction could make the decision to revoke his good-time credit, so the trial court erred in making that decision itself. Oral arguments in that case will begin at 10:30 a.m.

Indiana’s high court is entering its second week of oral arguments as a four-person bench, as Gov. Eric Holcomb is still in the process of selecting the next Indiana Supreme Court justice to replace recently-retired Justice Robert Rucker.

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