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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides two today

In Alva Curtis v. State of Indiana, a 14-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:

We hold that pending criminal charges do not violate a defendant‘s right to due process if (1) the trial court has not involuntarily committed the defendant and (2) the trial court has not made an appropriate finding that the defendant will never be restored to competency. We also hold that, under the facts of this case, the defendant has forfeited his constitutional speedy-trial claims but that the trial court should have granted the defendant‘s motion to dismiss and discharge under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C). * * *

In his appellate brief, Curtis raised constitutional speedy-trial, Criminal Rule 4(C), and due process claims. The Court of Appeals found that the pending criminal charges violated Cur-tis‘s right to due process. Curtis v. State, 932 N.E.2d 204, 208 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010). Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded with instructions to dismiss the charging infor-mation. Id. at 210. The court did not address the constitutional speedy-trial and Criminal Rule 4(C) issues. We granted transfer. * * *

Curtis has waived his constitutional speedy-trial claims and does not have a valid due process claim on fundamental-fairness grounds. Curtis is however entitled to dismissal under Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C). Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand with instructions to dismiss the charging information.

In Douglas Denzell v. State of Indiana, a 4-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:
Denzell‘s appellate reply brief and petition to transfer focus heavily on the Court of Appeals decision in Curtis v. State, 932 N.E.2d 204 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010), trans. granted. In Curtis, the Court of Appeals found that the pending criminal charges violated the defendant‘s due process rights despite the facts that (1) the trial court had not found the defendant incompetent under the mandated statutory procedures and (2) the trial court had never committed the defendant. Id. at 207–08. As reflected in Curtis v. State, No. 49S02-1010-CR-620, __ N.E.2d __ (Ind. June 14, 2011), we disagree and find no due process violation in that case in light of the relevant precedent—namely, State v. Davis, 898 N.E.2d 281 (Ind. 2008)—and the various interests at stake.

Although the facts of Denzell‘s case differ from the facts of Curtis, the relevant precedent and interests at stake are the same. As the Court of Appeals noted, there has been no determination that Denzell will never be restored to competency. Denzell, 935 N.E.2d at 1248. In fact, the record not only reflects that Denzell can be restored to competency but also reveals that Denzell stopped taking his medications once he discovered he would return to court. It would be counterintuitive to allow a defendant to assert a due process violation based on incompetency if the defendant himself purposely decompensated to avoid going to court. Accordingly, Denzell does not have a viable fundamental-fairness argument. * * *

In all other respects, we summarily affirm the opinion of the Court of Appeals, under which the trial court‘s denial of Denzell‘s motion to dismiss is affirmed. Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(2).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 14, 2011 12:44 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions