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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court posts two opinions late today

In State of Indiana v. Jeffrey Brunner , an 8-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:

On the defendant’s motion, the trial court modified the defendant’s conviction several years after the case had concluded. The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court on grounds that the trial court lacked statutory authority to modify the conviction and ordered the original conviction to be reinstated. We agree with the Court of Appeals and reverse the trial court’s order. We hold it was in violation of statutory authority to modify the conviction. We remand to the trial court to reinstate the original conviction. * * *

The plain meaning of Indiana Code section 35-50-2-7(b), as well as the meaning taken in context with Indiana Code section 35-38-1-1.5, shows that the trial court erred in granting Brunner’s motion for modification of conviction. We reverse and remand with instructions for the trial court to reinstate the original judgment of conviction. The trial court believed it was assisting a defendant who had demonstrated he was worthy of an opportunity to have his conviction modified.

In State of Indiana v. Charles Boyle, a 5-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:
On the defendant's petition for post-conviction relief, the trial court modified the defendant's conviction several years after the case had concluded. The Court of Appeals overturned the trial court on grounds that the trial court lacked statutory authority to modify the conviction and ordered the original conviction to be reinstated. We agree with the Court of Appeals and grant transfer and reverse the trial court's order. We hold it is in violation of statutory authority to modify the conviction under the circumstances of this case. We remand to the trial court to reinstate the original conviction. * * *

The sole issue is whether the trial court erred in granting Boyle's petition for modification of his conviction for operation of a motor vehicle while a habitual traffic violator as a Class D felony to a Class A misdemeanor. We agree with the State and the Court of Appeals that the trial court improperly granted Boyle's request. For the reasons explained in State v. Brunner, No. 57S04-1010-CR-603, _____ N.E.2d _____ (Ind. May 26, 2011), also decided today, we hold that the trial court erred in modifying Boyle's conviction from a Class D felony to a Class A misdemeanor. * * *

The plain meaning of Indiana Code section 35-50-2-7(b), as well as the meaning taken in context with Indiana Code section 35-38-1-1.5, shows that the trial court erred in granting Boyle's motion for modification of conviction. We grant transfer and reverse the trial court and remand with instructions for the trial court to reinstate the original judgment of conviction.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 26, 2011 08:23 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions