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Appeals Court rejects ruling

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- On Monday, the Indiana Court of Appeals found that a Brazil man was entitled to discharge under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C) after being held to answer on charges for more than year without a trial date while waiting for a motion to suppress the ruling.

However, the ruling is still subject to modification, according to officials with the Clay County Prosecutor's Office.

According to information provided by the Court of Appeals, Scott West was charged in June 2009 with possession of a destructive device, a class C felony, dealing in marijuana, possession of marijuana, and maintaining a common nuisance, all class D felonies, in addition to possession of paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor.

Information from the court stated a trial date for West had been scheduled for March 2010, but was pushed back as well as the suppression hearing, which had been scheduled for February 2010.

The court stated in June 2010, the court had invited West to request a continuance to allow time for post-hearing submissions and the court's ruling regarding the motion to suppress.

The Court of Appeals stated the case sat "for a year with no activity," before the original judge in the case was replaced in November 2011.

In December 2011, West moved for discharge under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C), which was denied, according to the Court of Appeals.

Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C) states that "No person shall be held on recognizance or otherwise to answer a criminal charge for a period in aggregate embracing more than one year from the date the criminal charge against such defendant is filed, or from the date of his arrest on such charge, whichever is later; except where a continuance was had on his motion, or the delay was caused by his act, or where there was not sufficient time to try him during such period because of congestion of the court calendar; provided, however, that in the last-mentioned circumstance, the prosecuting attorney shall file a timely motion for continuance as under subdivision (A) of this rule.

Provided further, that a trial court may take note of congestion or an emergency without the necessity of a motion, and upon so finding may order a continuance.

Any continuance granted due to a congested calendar or emergency shall be reduced to an order, which order shall also set the case for trial within a reasonable time.

Any defendant so held shall, on motion, be discharged."

According to the Court of Appeals ruling, written by Senior Judge Randall Shepard, even though West's motion to suppress caused the initial delay in the original trial date, a year passed without activity before West sought a new judge, which could not be attributed to West.

According to the appellate court's ruling, it rejected a claim from the state that West caused the delay by asking the court for an "indefinite continuance" from a trial date in June 2010 during a suppression hearing.

The appellate court ruled that the court prompted West to move for the continuance. The court also stated it was reasonable for West to expect the court would rule on the motion and be tried in a timely fashion.



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