Monday, October 28, 2013
Ind. Courts - More on: Morgan County Prosecutor to challenge expungement
Updating this ILB post from Oct. 17th, questioning how the Morgan County prosecutor can challenge the constitutionality of a state statute that he, and the Attorney General, are sworn to uphold, the Indianapolis Star yesterday had a long story by Tim Evans headed "Indiana law erasing criminal records faces challenge." Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega is quoted:
“The Legislature over-stepped its Constitutional authority,” the prosecutor wrote in a court filing this month. “when it used the term ‘shall’ as opposed to ‘may.’” * * *
Sonnega said he is unaware of any other challenges to the new law, which already has prompted hundreds of Hoosiers to file petitions seeking to clear their criminal records.
“I guess there’s nobody else brave enough or stupid enough to try this,” he said. “I just think it’s important that we at least sort this out, and I’m sure a lot of people are watching to see what happens.”
The prosecutor’s challenge extends beyond the victim issue, although he acknowledges that may be his strongest legal — and moral — argument. He also cites other constitutional violations, including that the legislature overstepped its authority “by telling a court what it has to do” and that the law takes away the public’s right to know the truth and make informed decisions as to protect other potential victims. * * *
So far, the attorney general, who typically defends state laws, has stayed out of the case. An appeal would set up an interesting scenario because the attorney general also represents prosecutors in cases that go to the Indiana Court of Appeals or state Supreme Court.
[IU McKinney law prof. Joel] Schumm said that is one of the oddest things about the case — basically pitting one arm of the state against another.
Bryan Corbin, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the office would step in to defend the law if Hanson rules in favor of the prosecutor.
“It is the duty of the Office of the Attorney General to defend a statute passed by the Legislature if it is found unconstitutional by a trial court,” Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement to The Star.
“While we respect the views of county prosecutors, we believe that changes to statutes should be brought back before legislators to resolve policy questions.”
Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 28, 2013 11:22 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts