Justices agree to hear extended expungement-wait case

Editor’s note: This article has been revised to replace references to the expungement plaintiff’s name with his initials after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in his favor.

Indiana Supreme Court justices have agreed to hear a case that sharply divided an appellate panel concerning whether minor felonies reduced to misdemeanor convictions should trigger new five-year waiting periods for individuals seeking a criminal expungement.

In N.G. v. State of Indiana, 19S-XP-673, the Indiana Court of Appeals majority consisting of judges Terry Crone and James Kirsch affirmed the denial of N.G.’s expungement petition for his 2006 conviction of Class D felony theft.

N.G. successfully petitioned to have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor in 2016, but the Elkhart Superior Court denied his expungement petition in 2018, ruling that the entry of the misdemeanor conviction meant N.G. had to wait five years from the date the conviction was reduced for relief.

Judge John Baker dissented, arguing that the majority’s decision “leads to an illogical result” and that it would mean “a person who has a Class D felony conviction that was converted to a Class A misdemeanor has to wait longer for expungement than someone who merely has a Class D felony conviction.”

“I simply cannot accept that the General Assembly intended this result, which is both unjust and ill advised,” Baker opined. “Moreover, given the mandate that we liberally construe the expungement statutes, in my opinion the result is doubly wrong.”

Despite his disagreement, Baker joined the majority in requesting guidance from the Indiana General Assembly. The Indiana Supreme Court ultimately granted transfer to the case, also agreeing to hear The City of New Albany v. Board of Commissioners of the County of Floyd, 19S-MI-674.

In that case, the COA granted the City of New Albany’s petition for rehearing but affirmed its original ruling that continued occupancy of the criminal justice center maintains the terms and conditions of the tenant’s lease even after the agreement has expired.

The full list of transfer decisions for the week ending Dec. 20, where 23 other cases were denied, can be found here.

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