State ex rel. Uzelac v. Lake Criminal Court

Decision Date07 December 1965
Docket NumberNo. 30881,30881
PartiesSTATE of Indiana ex rel. milan UZELAC, Relator, v. LAKE CRIMINAL COURT, John H. McKenna, as Judge of the Lake Criminal Court, Respondents.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Max Cohen, Gary, for appellant.

Henry S. Knowalczyk, Raymond C. Sufana, Crown Point, William A. Kowalski, East Chicago, for appellee.


The relator was charged with the crime of murder in the respondent court and has filed a petition for a writ of prohibition claiming he is entitled to be discharged under Rule 1-4D which became effective July 1, 1965. He was arrested for the crime as a result of the filing of an affidavit in the respondent court on January 28, 1965 and indicted on May 12, 1965. The pertinent sections of this rule involved in this case are Sections 1 and 2, which read as follows:

'1. Defendant in jail.--No defendant shall be detained in jail on a charge, without a trial, for a continuous period embracing more than six months from the date the criminal charge against such defendant is filed, or from the date of his arrest on such charge (which ever 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 circumstances, the prosecuting attorney shall make such statement in a motion for continuance not later than ten days prior to the date set for trial, or if such motion is filed less than ten days prior to trial, the prosecuting attorney shall show additionally that the delay in filing the motion was not the fault of the prosecutor.

'2. Defendant in Jail.--Motion for Early Trial.--If any defendant held in jail on an indictment or an affidavit shall move for an early trial, he shall be discharged if not brought to trial within fifty judicial days from the date of such motion, except where a continuance within said period is had on his motion, or the delay is otherwise caused by his act, or where there was not sufficient time to try him during such fifty judicial days because of the 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 paragraph one (1) of this rule.'

Relator claims that the rule should be applied retroactively and to all criminal cases pending on July 1, 1965. Since he was initially detained in jail and charged by affidavit on January 28, 1965, he claims under Section 1 of the above rule he would be entitled to be discharged six months thereafter (July 28, 1965)unless brought to trial. The rule states it 'shall be effective on and after July 1, 1965.

Relator further contends that after July 1, 1965 he made a demand (on August 5, 1965) for immediate trial and that he is now entitled to be discharged, since fifty judicial days had elapsed without a trial since the demand, as provided in Rule 1-4D. The respondent contends this period was interrupted by reason of an insanity inquest of defendant ordered by the respondent court. We need not, however, consider that point since it becomes moot in view of our interpretation of the effective application of the rule fixed by this opinion.

The respondents state that this Court is without authority to enact Rule 1-4D, since 'it affects substantive rights' and is not procedural in effect; that the appropriate law, being Burns' Ind.Stat.Anno. Sec. 2-4718 (1946 Repl.), delegates to the Supreme Court the power to make rules only of practice and procedure and that this Court, although it has inherent power to make rules of practice and procedure, cannot enact substantive law.

We are unable to follow the respondents' contention in this respect. It is the Constitution which grants the 'substantive right' to a trial 'speedily, and without delay.' Indiana Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 12.

The Supreme Court, by its Rule 1-4D, did not create the substantive right of a speedy and prompt trial; that right was given by the Constitution. The rule merely prescribed the procedure and method under which that right may be obtained in a judicial proceeding. For example, the constitutional rights to a trial by jury and to an appeal (to mention but a few such rights) are given by the Constitution to litigants and are not granted by this Court as a result of rules made fixing the time and procedure by which such rights are exercised in a uniform fashion in judicial proceedings. State ex. rel. Blood, et al. v. Gibson Circuit Court (1959), 239 Ind. 394, 157 N.E.2d 475; Smith v. State (1939), 215 Ind. 276, 19 N.E.2d 549.

A general commentary on this point says:

'The time, place, form, and mode of doing an act in court is, generally speaking, a proper subject of regulation by rules, and litigants may be required to comply with rules upon these subjects and, in default of such compliance, may be deemed to have waived their rights. Rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be done or certain proceedings taken are very familiar and are absolutely indispensable to the prevention of the needless delays and to the orderly and speedly discharge of business.' (Our italics) 14 Am.Jur., Courts, Sec. 153, p. 359; 1 Gavit, Ind. Pleading & Practice, Sec. 6, pp. 42-43; Wayman et al. v. Southard et al. (1825), 23 U.S. (10 Wheat.) 1, 6 L.Ed. 253.

The rule (1-4D) we have made certainly does not limit or impair the constitutional right to a speedy trial, but it does implement and aid in securing such a constitutional right in the trial court.

The Supreme Court of Indiana not only has the right, but the responsibility under the Constitution, to formulate rules and regulations so that the constitutional rights of litigants may be fully recognized and applied in the administration of justice in the courts.

It may be said further that although the legislature has attempted to fix time limitations (based on terms of court) in aid of a speedy trial, still this Court is the final arbiter of the reasonableness of such time limitations in carrying out the constitutional provisions. The legislature may not fix an extraordinary length of time either too short or too long. On final analysis this Court has to determine whether a defendant has had his constitutional 'speedy trial'. This Court could arbitrarily refuse to make a rule outlining the reasonable time limitations for a speedy criminal trial and...

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24 cases
  • Fall v. Indiana University Bd. of Trustees
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • December 30, 1998
    ...held that a statute is not to be applied retroactively merely because it is procedural in nature. See State ex rel. Uzelac v. Lake Criminal Court, 247 Ind. 87, 212 N.E.2d 21, 24 (1965) ("It is true, statutes and rules as to procedural and remedial matters may be made to operate retroactivel......
  • In re Hershman
    • United States
    • U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • March 31, 2009
    ...matters may be made to operate retroactively, it is not the case that they must apply retroactively. State ex rel. Uzelac v. Lake Crim. Ct., 247 Ind. 87, 212 N.E.2d 21, 24 (1965). As we held in Gosnell v. Indiana Soft Water Service, Unless there are strong and compelling reasons, statutes w......
  • Western Smelting & Metals v. Slater Steel, Inc.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • November 12, 1985
    ...v. Ascot Oil Co., 561 F.2d 41, 45 (7th Cir.1977); Herrick v. Sayler, 245 F.2d 171, 174 (7th Cir.1957); State ex rel. Uzelac v. Lake Criminal Court, 247 Ind. 87, 212 N.E.2d 21 (1965); Davis v. State, 464 N.E.2d 926, 928 (Ind.App.1984). An exception to this general rule exists for remedial st......
  • Shack v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • October 25, 1972 applicable. At the threshold it must be decided which is applicable, the statute or the rule. In State ex rel. Uzelac v. Lake Criminal Court (1965), 247 Ind. 87, 93, 212 N.E.2d 21, 24, it was 'Obviously, the end of uniformity and simplicity can be best achieved by applying Rule 1--4D to ......
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