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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 4 NFP memorandum decisions)

For publication opinions today (2):

[ILB Note: This opinion was removed by the COA on April 16th shortly after it had been posted online, but not before the ILB had written the following summary. The COA issued an opinion with the same conclusions (and that may be the same in all aspects) on May 12th and is it is summarized by the ILB here (4th case).] In James Satterfield v. State of Indiana, a 16-page opinion, Judge Riley writes:

Appellant-Defendant, James Satterfield (Satterfield), appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to let bail following his arrest and charge for murder. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

Satterfield raises one issue on appeal, which we restate as follows: Whether the State established that the proof of Satterfield’s guilt for murder is evident or the presumption of that guilt strong despite his claim of self-defense.

The State raises one issue on cross-appeal, which we restate as follows: Whether Satterfield filed a timely notice of appeal. * * *

In its cross-appeal, the State maintains that Satterfield forfeited his right to appeal the trial court’s denial of his bail by failing to file a notice of appeal within the requisite thirty days of the trial court’s order. Because the trial court’s order constituted a final appealable judgment and the motion to reconsider did not toll the running of time, the State maintains that the notice of appeal was due eight days prior to Satterfield’s filing of his notice of appeal. * * *

Ultimately, though, the criminal jurisprudence of Indiana and any corresponding discussion of bail is founded on a presumption of individual innocence. See Bozovichar, 103 N.E.2d at 681; see U.S. v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987) (“[L]iberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception.”). It is the unique confluence of this fundamental liberty interest along with one of the most valued rights in our culture—the right to bail—that we conclude that Satterfield’s otherwise forfeited appeal deserves a determination on its merits. * * *

Accordingly, after the Fry decision re-evaluated the bailment landscape, we pay homage to the ancient principle of stare decisis and reaffirm a defendant’s right to present exculpatory evidence as to his or her culpability during a bail proceeding and the trial court’s duty to take this evidence into account when considering a request for bail. * * *

However, after being presented with Satterfield’s evidence, the trial court refused to weigh any evidentiary facts alluding to a possible self-defense and, thus, abused its discretion. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s denial of Satterfield’s bail and remand to the trial court with instructions to conduct a new bail hearing in accordance with our opinion today.

Based on the foregoing, we hold that even though Satterfield forfeited his right to appeal due to his failure to timely file a notice of appeal, extraordinarily compelling reasons warrant a review of Satterfield’s argument on the merits. Upon review of the evidence, we reverse the trial court’s denial of bail and remand for a new bail hearing with instructions to weigh Satterfield’s evidence of self-defense. Reversed and remanded.

Najam, J. concurs
Bradford, J. concurs in result

In Jeffery J. Hunt v. State of Indiana, an 8-page opinion, Judge Mathias concludes:
After surveying sentences imposed in similar cases, we conclude that Hunt’s 120-year sentence is an “outlier” that is in need of revision. To be clear, we need not ensure that all sentences for similar acts and defendants are precisely the same.

We further note that the maximum aggregate sentence Hunt could have received had he actually killed Mr. Neer is 113 years. * * * As heinous as Hunt's crime was, it would be disproportionate5 to impose a sentence for his crime resulting in serious bodily injury to the victim that is greater than the sentence that would be imposed upon Hunt for killing the victim. * * *

For all of these reasons, we conclude that Hunt’s sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and the character of the offender and direct that it be revised to an aggregate term of 100 years. Reversed and remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

NFP civil decisions today (2):

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of L.P., Mother, and L.H., Child, L.P. v. Ind. Dept. of Child Services (mem. dec.)

Harry J. Evans, et al. v. Tommy L. Short (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (2):

Clinton Davis v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Eric P. Johnson v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 16, 2015 12:53 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions