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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Ind. Courts - "Porter Co. Prosecutor faced with contempt in dispute with judge"

Bob Kasarda of the NWI Times has posted this story this afternoon. Some quotes, but read the whole story:

VALPARAISO — The Indiana Supreme Court has been called in to settle a dispute heated enough that Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester had scheduled a contempt hearing for Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel and three members of his staff.

The dispute centers on Chidester ordering prosecutors in April to file photocopies of the arresting officers' narratives in three drunken driving-related cases, according to court documents.

Chidester argues in his response that the information will allow him to make more fully informed decisions if defendants later seek to terminate their refusals to take a chemical test at the time of their arrest.

Prosecutors, arguing the police reports are "confidential, privileged attorney work product materials," made an unsuccessful attempt to challenge Chidester's order. * * *

The issue is now pending before the Indiana Supreme Court, and the Indiana Attorney General's Office has stepped in to represent the prosecutors.

Chidester, who declined to comment on the pending matter, said in a court document that in almost every case with a refusal of a chemical test, the defendant later seeks to terminate it to avoid the subsequent drivers license suspension.

In addition to facing the limitations of a heavy caseload, Chidester said prosecutors defending a chemical test refusal have not informed the court of a "multitude of important factors" found in the police narrative.

Having the police narratives in the file, as has been done in neighboring LaPorte County for more than 40 years, would assist in the fact-finding mission, Chidester said. If a defendant does not seek relief from refusing a chemical test, the police narrative will remain unread in the confidential portion of the file.

"The Court's ultimate goal is to protect the lives of the citizens of Porter County from those already convicted of operating a vehicle intoxicated," Chidester wrote. "The truth-gathering process would be enhanced by having all evidence at the Court's disposal."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 9, 2016 05:46 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts