« Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today | Main | Courts - "Why shouldn't Georgia lethal injection — and all executions — be recorded on video?" »

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 4 NFP)

For publication opinions today (2):

Jacqueline Wisner, M.D., and the South Bend Clinic, L.L.P. v. Archie L. Laney

In James Bellamy v. State of Indiana, an 8-page opinion, Judge Bradford writes:

Appellant-Defendant James Bellamy appeals the trial court’s finding that he was in direct criminal contempt. Alternatively, Bellamy argues that the trial court erred in refusing him the opportunity to explain himself. We affirm. * * *

Bellamy failed to timely appear at the August 11, 2010 pre-trial hearing. The trial court subsequently issued a warrant for Bellamy’s arrest. Bellamy was later located and was brought before the trial court. The trial court released Bellamy on his own recognizance after the trial court warned him that he would be found in contempt and taken into custody if he failed to timely appear for future scheduled court proceedings.

Bellamy timely appeared at a September 1, 2010 pre-trial hearing, at the conclusion of which the trial court scheduled his trial for November 8, 2010. On November 8, 2010, Bellamy again failed to timely appear before the trial court. Bellamy eventually appeared before the trial court fifty-four minutes after his trial was scheduled to begin. In light of his failure to timely appear for trial, the trial court found that Bellamy was in direct contempt of the trial court’s previous order and sentenced Bellamy to five days2 of incarceration in the Marion County Jail. The parties then proceeded to trial, during which the State sought and was granted permission to dismiss the Class A misdemeanor trespass charge. Following the conclusion of the evidence, the trial court found that Bellamy was not guilty of Class C misdemeanor unauthorized possession of a license or permit.

Bellamy contends that the trial court erred in finding him in direct contempt, rather than indirect contempt. Alternatively, Bellamy argues that even if the trial court did not err in finding him in direct contempt, the trial court erred in refusing to allow him to explain the reason for his tardiness to the court. * * *

Bellamy does not dispute that his acts stood in disregard of judicial authority or that the trial court possessed personal knowledge of his contemptuous act. Rather, Bellamy contends that the trial court erred in finding him in direct criminal contempt following his failure to timely appear before the trial court because of his status as a layperson. * * *

[D]espite his status as a layperson, we conclude that the trial court did not err in finding Bellamy in direct contempt of the trial court. Bellamy’s failure to timely appear after receiving an express prior warning from the trial court that such a failure would result in a contempt finding distinguishes the instant matter from Rice and Williams, and demonstrates the requisite interruption to the scheduled court proceedings and disrespect for the trial court. * * *

While we agree that the better practice would have been for the trial court to allow Bellamy the opportunity to explain his tardiness, we conclude that, in light of the facts and circumstances surrounding the instant matter, any challenge to the error relating to the trial court’s failure to allow Bellamy to explain his tardiness was waived. Bellamy was represented below by counsel, and his counsel neither made an offer to prove nor provided additional argument relating to the reason for Bellamy’s tardiness.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of D.B., et al.; W.B. v. IDCS (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (3):

Antonio Jenkins v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Michael J. Earnest v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Marvin M. Willis v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 21, 2011 11:45 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions