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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues three more today

In Carlos M. Jackson v. State of Indiana, a 15-page, 3-2 opinion, in a case that was argued Nov. 28, 2006, Justice Boehm writes for the majority:

We hold that a trial court may find a knowing and voluntary waiver of a defendant’s right to be present at his jury trial if (1) the defendant knew his trial date and (2) the defendant did not provide an adequate explanation for his absence from trial. We also hold that a trial court is not required to readvise a defendant of his right to counsel or the perils of self-representation when the trial court revokes a defendant’s attorney’s pro hac vice status if (1) the defendant was ad-vised of his right to have appointed counsel at his initial hearing and (2) the defendant had initially retained counsel and had made no indication to the trial court that he could not afford to hire another attorney or intended to proceed pro se. Finally, under these circumstances, a defendant’s intentional and inexcusable absence from trial can serve as a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel. * * *

Shepard, C.J., and Dickson, J., concur.
Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Sullivan, J., concurs: Because the defendant in this case did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel, I respectfully dissent. * * *

I agree that a trial court cannot “hunt down a defendant to admonish him about the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.” Such an inquiry is quite obviously impossible when a defendant fails to present himself before the court. But one’s fugitive status is a separate wrong with its own consequences, and returned fugitives should be punished, if appropriate, for violations of court orders or statutes which compel their presence in court. See Ind. Code §§ 35-44-3-6; 34-47-3. It is not grounds for forfeiting the right to representation by counsel. For the foregoing reasons, reasons, I respectfully dissent and would reverse the judgment of the trial court.

InMark Clarke v. State of Indiana, a 12-page, 4-1 opinion, in a case argued Jan. 25, 2007, Justice Boehm writes for the majority:
We hold that a police officer who neither explicitly nor implicitly communicates that a person is not free to go about his or her business may ask questions of the person to investigate allegations of criminal activity without implicating the Fourth Amendment or requiring the advisement of rights under the Indiana Constitution. * * *

Conclusion We affirm the trial court’s denial of Clarke’s motion to suppress. We summarily affirm the Court of Appeals as to issues not addressed in this opinion. See Appellate Rule 58(A).

Shepard, C.J., and Dickson and Sullivan, JJ., concur.
Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion. [which concludes:] In this case the majority distinguishes between “custody” and “seizure” concluding that “Pirtle advisements” are required for the former, but not the latter. I see no principled distinction between the two. By whatever nomenclature, the key question to be asked is whether the person is entitled to disregard police questioning and walk away. If not, then the person must be informed of the right to consult with counsel about the possibility of consenting to a search. Otherwise no valid consent can be given. Indeed the primary authority on which the majority relies makes this very point. Discussing Jones, 655 N.E.2d at 56, the Court in Cooley v. State, 682 N.E.2d 1277, 1279 (Ind. 1997), recognized, “Had Jones refused to give the police permission to search, he would have been given two citations and been free to leave.” In this case Clarke had no such option. And because he was not given a Pirtle advisement any alleged consent was invalid as a matter of state law. Accordingly, I agree with the result reached by the Court of Appeals and would reverse the trial court’s denial of Clarke’s motion to suppress.

In Aaron Israel v. Indiana Department of Correction , an 8-page, 3-2 opinion, in which there was no oral argument, Justice Sullivan writes for the majority:
[Inmate] Israel responded by filing a small claims action against the DOC in the Small Claims D-vision of the LaPorte Superior Court. His argument was that the DOC’s withdrawal of funds from his trust account violated the terms of a written agreement he had with a prison counselor that purported to limit the amount the DOC could withdraw from his account. The small claims court decided the case against him.

Israel appealed. The DOC sought dismissal of the appeal on grounds that the small claims court did not have jurisdiction to review a disciplinary decision against Israel, citing this Court’s recent pronouncement in Blanck v. Indiana Department of Correction that “[f]or a quarter-century, our Court has held that DOC inmates have no common law, statutory, or federal constitutional right to review in state court DOC disciplinary decisions.” 829 N.E.2d 505, 507 (Ind. 2005). The Court of Appeals rejected the DOC’s jurisdictional argument, but decided the merits in the DOC’s favor. ... We grant Israel’s petition for transfer and hold that the trial court should have dismissed Israel’s lawsuit. * * *

Shepard, C.J., concurs and Rucker, J., concurs with separate opinion.
Boehm, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Dickson, J., concurs.

Rucker, Justice, concurring. In my view Blanck v. Ind. Dep’t of Corr., 829 N.E.2d 505 (Ind. 2005), was wrongly decided. Indeed I joined Justice Boehm’s concurring in result opinion for that reason. But Blanck, and the authority on which it rests, is now settled law, namely: the enforcement of prison disciplinary sanctions are not subject to judicial review. I therefore concur in the majority opinion in this case.

Boehm, J., dissenting. [in a 4-page opinion, which concludes:] The majority’s holding today extends Blanck. Even if related to discipline, a breach of contract claim is subject to judicial review and within the subject matter jurisdiction of state courts. I do not suggest there is merit to Israel’s claims. They may be subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim. They are, however, within the jurisdiction of the courts.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 26, 2007 03:36 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions