Justices agree to hear firearms, driving privileges cases

The Indiana Supreme Court will soon grapple with legal issues relating to possession of firearms and specialized driving privileges after granting transfer to three cases last week.

The first firearm-related case the court will hear, Khalil Jalon Payne v. State of Indiana, 18S-CR-284, stems from Khalil Payne’s conviction of possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. That conviction was reversed after a divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals determined Payne’s underlying conviction for robbery was not valid.

Specifically, Judge Rudolph Pyle wrote for the majority in February that the only evidence the state relied on to support the robbery conviction was Payne’s purported signature on a robbery plea agreement. The state did not introduce evidence to authenticate that signature, Pyle said, so there was not sufficient evidence to support the robbery plea – meaning the SVF conviction had to be thrown out. Judge James Kirsch dissented, and the state appealed.

The second firearm-related case, J.R. v. State of Indiana, 18S-JV-285, involves a juvenile who was found to be in possession of a firearm. Though 16-year-old J.R. was adjudicated a juvenile delinquent for acts that would be dangerous possession of a firearm and carrying a handgun without a license, both Class A misdemeanors if committed by an adult, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed J.R.’s carrying a handgun without a license adjudication in December after finding no statutory basis to support the true finding for that adjudication.

“In other words, Indiana Code section 35-46-2-1 applies only to adults who possess handguns without a license, and as a matter of law, a person under the age of eighteen is not eligible for such a handgun license,” Judge John Baker wrote for the unanimous court. “Instead, a person under the age of eighteen, such as J.R., who possesses a handgun for any unauthorized reason commits, and only commits, dangerous possession of a firearm.”

J.R.’s case was remanded for the carrying adjudication to be vacated and for resentencing, if necessary. The state appealed that decision.

Finally, the justices granted transfer to State of Indiana, et al. v. Daniel Reinhart, 18S-MI-286, a driving privileges case that implicates questions of jurisdiction. After Daniel Reinhart’s driving privileges were twice suspended for 10 years in Adams County and for life in Noble County, Reinhart successfully petitioned the Adams Superior Court for specialized driving privileges relating to all three of his suspensions.

The state responded by arguing that Adams County did not have jurisdiction to modify the Noble County suspension, and the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed in February. Baker wrote for the majority that Reinhart would have to seek specialized privileges for his Noble County suspension in that county, and thus remanded the case to vacate the portion of the Adams County order relating to the Noble County suspension. Reinhart now appeals.Oral arguments have not yet been set for any of the three cases the court granted transfer to last week.

The justices also denied transfer to 51 other cases. The full list of transfer actions can be viewed here.

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