COA finds speedy-trial rights not violated in Johnson Co. robbery case

The Indiana Court of Appeals has dismissed a man’s interlocutory appeal arguing his Sixth Amendment rights were violated after it found the defendant was partially responsible for the delay in his trial and there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude official negligence by the state.

In June 2017, Jameson D. McCarthy allegedly violently robbed a discount tobacco store in Johnson County and stole a customer’s car.

McCarthy was apprehended by the Greenwood Police Department and transported to a Marion County hospital for injuries, where he was taken into custody by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on an active warrant and was incarcerated at the Marion County Jail.  The following day, McCarthy was charged with five felonies in Johnson Circuit Court.

But the Johnson County warrant for McCarthy’s arrest was not served until Dec. 14, 2018. Three days later McCarthy requested and was granted a continuance.

At the initial hearing in February 2019, McCarthy requested a speedy trial. But the trial court held pretrial conferences in March, June and August, and McCarthy was granted continuances at each.

McCarthy requested a continuance again in October 2019, but the state objected. In December, his appointed counsel withdrew from the case due to a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship, and McCarthy moved to continue pro se.

In July 2020, with a trial date set for Sept. 22, McCarthy filed a motion to discharge pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C), the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution. The trial court held a hearing on the motion and denied it on Sept. 8, which led to an interlocutory appeal.

McCarthy argued his right to a speedy trial was violated because his arrest and charge occurred in the Johnson County case in 2017, beginning the one-year timeline in which the county was required to bring him to trial. Thus, he argued his rights had been violated due to the delay between his arrest, charging and trial.

But the Court of Appeals disagreed.

“McCarthy has not satisfied us that Johnson County was under an obligation to bring McCarthy to trial until he had been transferred from Marion County,” COA Chief Judge Cale Bradford wrote Wednesday in Jameson D. McCarthy v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-1892. “… Because McCarthy’s case was not already underway, we see no reason to stray from the precedent set by the Indiana Supreme Court in (State ex rel. Johnson v. Kohlmeyer), that the 4(C) clock did not begin until McCarthy was transferred to Johnson County.

The COA did find, however, that the initial delay between McCarthy’s charging and initial hearing — 18 months — weighed slightly against the state.

“The state acknowledged it has some responsibility in the delay, so we must examine if the state acted with diligence, negligence, or in bad faith,” Bradford wrote “… While Johnson County had issued a warrant for McCarthy’s arrest, for an unknown reason the Marion County Jail failed to serve it upon McCarthy while he was incarcerated. The evidence shows that that failure, though negligent, was not intentional or done in bad faith.”

Factors in the delays weighed more against McCarthy than the state, the court concluded.

“Again, a significant portion of the delay bringing this case to trial resulted from McCarthy’s six requests for continuance compared to the state’s single request,” Bradford wrote. “Even discounting a disputed continuance request, our review of the record credits McCarthy with almost a full year of delays attributable to his continuances.”

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