Huffman v. State, 1284S478

Citation502 N.E.2d 906
Decision Date21 January 1987
Docket NumberNo. 1284S478,1284S478
PartiesRobert Duane HUFFMAN, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Garry W. Miracle, Anderson, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Joseph N. Stevenson, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

DICKSON, Justice.

In this direct appeal, defendant's issues include the contention that he was entitled to discharge pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(C) due to the State's failure to bring him to trial within one year following his arrest.

Criminal Rule 4(C) provides:

No person shall be held on recognizance or otherwise to answer a criminal charge for a period in aggregate embracing more than one year from the date the criminal charge against such defendant is filed, or from the date of his arrest on such charge, whichever is later; except where a continuance was had on his motion, or the delay was caused by his act, or where there was not sufficient time to try him during such period because of congestion of the court calendar; provided, however, that in the last-mentioned circumstance, the prosecuting attorney shall file a timely motion for continuance as under subdivision (A) of this rule. Any defendant so held shall, on motion, be discharged.

The provisions of Criminal Rule 4(A) regarding said "timely motion for continuance" state:

* * * Except where a continuance was had on [defendant's] motion, or the delay was caused by his act, or where there was not sufficient time to try him during such period because of congestion of the court calendar; provided, however, that in the last-mentioned circumstance, the prosecuting attorney shall make such statement in a motion for continuance not later than ten (10) days prior to the date set for trial, or if such motion is filed less than ten (10) days prior to trial, the prosecuting attorney shall show additionally that the delay in filing the motion was not the fault of the prosecutor. * * *

The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees to each accused person "the right to a speedy and public trial." Art. 1, Sec. 12 of the Constitution of Indiana demands that justice shall be administered "speedily, and without delay." We recognized in Gill v. State (1977), 267 Ind. 160, 368 N.E.2d 1159, 1161:

Criminal Rule 4 exists in order to implement the basic right to speedy trial of those accused of crime and who are therefore in confinement or restrained on recognizance. Criminal justice must be administered by the courts with the highest regard for this constitutional right. [Citations omitted]

The relevant facts are not in dispute. Defendant was arrested for the crimes at issue on August 6, 1982. Without any delay caused by defendant, his trial was set for June 16, 1983. Trial did not occur as scheduled, and on June 20, 1983, the State filed a written "request for trial setting and showing court's congestion," which was not ruled upon until September 29, 1983. On August 25, 1983, the defendant filed a motion for discharge pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(C), which was denied.

On September 29, 1983, the trial court made the following nunc pro tunc entry for June 20, 1983:

State's Request for Trial Setting and Showing Court's congestion filed and granted. This matter having been set for trial June 16, 1983 and due to Court congestion, to-wit: State v. Fointno, 3SCR-82-87, could not be tried. This cause to be re-set for trial.

The following day, September 30, 1983, the trial court made a further nunc pro tunc entry as of September 1, 1983, which provided in pertinent part:

After having taken this matter under advisement, the Court denies the defendant's motion for discharge for reason that the Court take judicial notice of its own trial calendar and specifically finds that the above captioned cause could not be tried on the trial date of June 16, 1983, for reason of court congestion, specifically that on said date, the time set for trial this court was trying a criminal case, namely, State of Indiana v. Victor Fointno, in Cause No. 3SCR-82-87.

The Court further takes judicial notice and finds that the matter could not have been tried at any time after June 13, 1983, up to the time of defendant's filing of his motion for discharge because the court [sic] of other jury trials which were being conducted and therefore creating court congestion, those being State of Indiana v. Richard Clemmons, 3SCR-82-8; State of Indiana v. Michael Cox, 3SCR-82-90 and State of Indiana, State of Indiana v. Mark Allen Wisehart, 3SCR-82-204, the latter two cases being murder cases. Therefore, the Court denies defendant's motion for discharge.

Defendant's trial thereafter commenced on October 18, 1983.

The instant case is unlike those in which, within the time limit prescribed by the rule, the trial court determines that court calendar congestion compels the setting of a trial date promptly beyond the time limit. See, Dudley v. State (1985) Ind., 480 N.E.2d 881; Caine v. State (1975), 163 Ind.App. 381, 324 N.E.2d 525; Harris v. State (1971), 256 Ind. 464, 269 N.E.2d 537. Nor is this a case in which the defendant failed to object to the timely setting of a trial which would occur beyond the limit. See Bryant v. State (1973), 261 Ind. 172, 301 N.E.2d 179; Utterback v. State (1974), 261 Ind. 685, 310 N.E.2d 552. A defendant is not required to take affirmative action to obtain a trial date within the one-year period set by the rule. State ex rel Back v. Starke Circuit Court (1979), 271 Ind. 82, 390 N.E.2d 643, 645; State ex rel Wickliffe v. Marion Criminal Court (1975), 263 Ind. 219, 328 N.E.2d 420. But he does have a duty to alert the court when a trial date has been established beyond the proscribed limits. State ex rel O'Donnell v. Cass Superior Court (1984), Ind., 468 N.E.2d 209.

While the express language of the rule requires that, in order for the congested court calendar exception to apply, the prosecutor must file a timely motion, our case law has recognized that the continuance may be at the instance of the trial judge and not the prosecutor.

Whether the trial judge or the prosecutor makes the motion would seem irrelevant when considered in light of the rule's objective and the rights sought to be protected.

Harris, supra, 256 Ind. at 466, 269 N.E.2d at 539, as quoted with approval in Caine, supra, 163 Ind.App. at 387, 324 N.E.2d at 529.

In the case before us, the salient facts are clear. The State did not act to bring the defendant to trial within the required one year period. During this time, no delay was attributable to the defendant. The State failed to file any motion for continuance pursuant to Criminal Rule 4(A), (C), before the June 16 trial date, which would have been within the prescribed time limit. The one-year period expired August 7, 1983. Prior to that time, the trial court had not made any determination regarding congestion of court calendar. The date of the trial which finally occurred, over defendant's objection, was not set until September 30, long after the expiration of the time limit.

This case confronts this Court with an extremely unpleasant but compelling responsibility. We realize that the defendant was ultimately convicted following an arduous jury trial. Such cases extract an enormous personal toll from the witnesses, jurors, and others participating. Resulting costs are significant and burden our taxpayers, and the time devoted to such trials and subsequent proceedings operate to delay the resolution of other pending controversies. It is with extreme reluctance that we must consider setting aside the defendant's conviction, thus rendering futile the results of the jury trial which found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In reviewing the statutory predecessor to our present Criminal Rule 4(C), this Court instructed in Zehrlaut v....

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  • Everroad v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • 15 Abril 1991
    ..."Although a defendant is not required to take any affirmative action to obtain a trial date within the one-year period, Huffman v. State (1987), Ind., 502 N.E.2d 906, 908, he does have a duty to alert the court when a trial date has been set beyond the one-year period. If a trial date has b......
  • Pelley v. State
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    ...Criminal justice must be administered by the courts with the highest regard for this constitutional right." Huffman v. State, 502 N.E.2d 906, 907 (Ind.1987) (quoting Gill v. State, 267 Ind. 160, 165, 368 N.E.2d 1159, 1161 (1977)), reh'g Ind. Criminal Rule 4(C) provides: No person shall be h......
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    ...that a defendant has a duty to alert the court when a trial date has been scheduled beyond the one year proscribed limit. Huffman v. State (1987), Ind., 502 N.E.2d 906, reh. denied. When the court sets a trial beyond the expiration date, it is the defendant's obligation to object at the ear......
  • Young v. State
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