IN justices to consider discovery case involving ‘problematic’ precedent

Indiana Supreme Court justices this month will hear oral arguments on petition to transfer in a case in which the Court of Appeals of Indiana, despite “problematic” precedent, upheld the denial of a defendant’s motion to compel evidence of unredacted copies of the police report in his case.

In Frank E. Minges, III v. State of Indiana21A-CR-216, Frank E. Minges III was charged with Class A misdemeanor and Class C misdemeanor counts of operating while intoxicated.

As part of its discovery answer, the prosecutor’s office indicated Minges’ “Criminal History” and the “Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department Case Report Narrative” were “available to review upon appointment.”

But when defense counsel requested a copy of the police report via email, the prosecutor declined, indicating defense counsel could view the report in the prosecutor’s office. Or, if defense counsel agreed to a non-negotiable protective order, the prosecutor agreed to give defense counsel a copy.

Minges responded with a motion to compel discovery, requesting that the Dearborn Superior Court order the prosecutor “to produce a complete and accurate copy” of the police report.

The trial court denied the motion to compel and certified its order for interlocutory appeal, and the COA affirmed.

However, the appellate court cited concerns with Keaton v. Circuit Court of Rush County, 475 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind. 1985), stating that it was troubled by the notion of treating police “categorically as agents of the prosecutor before the prosecutor is even involved in a case.” The COA in its affirmation urged the Supreme Court to revisit Keaton.

Justices will hear arguments and consider whether to grant transfer to Minges’ case at 9 a.m. May 18 in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom at the Indiana Statehouse. Arguments will be held in person and livestreamed online.

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