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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Court rules "No excuse for prosecutor's failure to show up for DUI hearing"

Friday's NFP Court of Appeals decision in the case of Robert W. Gard v. State of Indiana gets a worthwhile look from today from Justin Leighty of the Elkhart Truth. He reports:

GOSHEN -- The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday that a local judge shouldn't have taken a prosecutor's excuse as a reason to reverse a ruling in favor of a DUI defendant.

The decision came in the case against Robert W. Gard, 56, of Vandalia.

Gard was arrested on a DUI charge in December, 2008, according to court records. The following April Gard's attorney filed a motion to supress some of the evidence against Gard. Judge Olga Stickel scheduled that issue for a hearing in May, 2009.

Deputy Prosecutor Ashley Ulbricht didn't show up for the hearing, and Stickel ruled in Gard's favor, according to the appeals judges and to court documents.

A month later, Ulbricht filed a request for Stickel to overturn her ruling. "At the hearing, Ulbrichte apologized to the trial court for not appearing at the hearing on Gard's motion to suppress and explained that the State had been absent because of an inadvertent oversight" and because she was filling in for someone else in a different court, according to the appeals judges.

A few months later Stickel ruled in the deputy prosecutor's favor, and Gard filed the appeal.

The appeals court ruled that Ulbrecht's apology wasn't enough, and that she didn't present any evidence to support the notion that she would've won had she attended the hearing. "Here, the State failed to present any admissible evidence to support a showing of a meritorious defense. We conclude that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted the State's motion for relief," they wrote.

The case is still pending in Elkhart Superior Court 4 and is scheduled for a trial next month.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 13, 2011 12:54 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions