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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues four today, including decision re Marion County police powers challenge, and question of when must Court pay for interpreters

In State of Indiana v. Cheryl Oddi-Smith, a 6-page, 5-0 opinion on a petition to transfer pursuant to Rule 56(A), Chief Justice Shepard writes:

The trial court suppressed all the evidence from appellee Cheryl Oddi-Smith’s drunk driving arrest. It held that the arresting officer had no law enforcement authority because he had not been re-sworn after the consolidation of the Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD). We hold that all sworn officers of the IPD or MCSD at the time of consolidation satisfied the oath requirement for officers in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD). * * *

We now turn to the issue at hand: whether Indiana law requires an officer to be re-sworn upon consolidation of a city police department and a county sheriff’s department or whether the officer’s sworn status carries forward to this newly consolidated entity. * * *

The legislature’s enactment authorizing combination of the two departments leaves substantial flexibility to the local legislative body. * * * The statute does not impose any additional requirements on officers, such as passing a new examination or re-swearing. Rather, the statute dictates that the officers selected by the city-county council “shall be” officers of the consolidated organization, contemplating an automatic transition into active law enforcement duty. * * *

Next we turn to the General Ordinance creating the IMPD to determine whether it contained a requirement to re-swear the officers transitioning into the IMPD. The Ordinance provided that IPD and MCSD would cease to exist after December 31, 2006, and that IMPD would become the legal successor in interest thereafter. * * * Nothing in the Ordinance indicates that officers transitioning from the IPD and MCSD needed to be re-sworn.

Finally, Oddi-Smith relies on an internal IMPD directive, General Order 1.1.1, which provides: “All persons employed by the [IMPD] as a merit or reserve police officer, prior to assuming sworn status, must meet with the Chief of Police or Sheriff to receive the oath of office for this department.” (Appellee’s Br. at 2 n.1.) As with the state statute and the local ordinance, we view this directive as aimed at personnel new to law enforcement, not as requiring a second oath for officers who had been sworn before the consolidation.

Conclusion. There might well be other grounds on which the arrest of Oddi-Smith was valid, like the “de facto officer” doctrine. We think it sufficient grounds to say that the arresting officer was recruited, trained, and sworn as an IPD officer and that he took all that with him to the IMPD. We reverse the trial court’s suppression and dismissal and remand for further proceedings on the merits of the charges against Oddi-Smith.

Here is a list of earlier ILB entries on the Oddi-Smith case.

In Elmer Bennett v. State of Indiana, a 2-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Shepard writes:

The contention in this appeal is that to obtain a conviction for theft, the State must prove the defendant intended to deprive the owner of its use – permanently. The Court of Appeals correctly rejected this contention. * * *

[In Coff v. State we ] rejected the notion that Indiana’s theft statute contains the common law larceny element requiring intent to permanently deprive. This aspect of Coff is still good law. We grant transfer and adopt the opinion of the Court of Appeals under Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(1).

In David T. Sholes v. State of Indiana, a 9-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:
Concluding that the defendant was not eligible to file a belated appeal of his sentence to life imprisonment without parole on Count II, and that the defendant failed to establish the dili-gence element required for permission to challenge his term-of-years sentences on Counts I, III, and IV, we dismiss the appeal.
In Jesus Arrieta v. State of Indiana, an 11-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Shepard writes:
American courts regularly supply interpreters at public expense to criminal defendants who are indigent. This appeal presents quite a different proposition: what should the court supply when the defendant is solvent?

When appellant Jesus Arrieta came before the court for his initial hearing on drug charges, the court provided an interpreter at public expense because the defendant did not speak English. The defense subsequently requested a court-funded interpreter for all remaining proceedings. The court declined to pay for these services absent a showing of indigency. The Court of Appeals affirmed on interlocutory appeal.

We distinguish defense interpreters, who simultaneously translate English proceedings for non-English-speaking defendants, from proceedings interpreters, who translate non-English testimony for the whole court. We conclude that courts should regularly provide proceedings interpreters at public expense when they are needed, regardless of a defendant’s indigency even when the defendant speaks English, as they are part of the basic apparatus of a court’s operation. By contrast, we see little reason why the public should finance defense interpreters for defendants who possess financial means.

Here is a list of earlier ILB entries in the Arrieta translator case.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 9, 2008 02:16 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions