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Davis v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 19, 2017

Philip R. Davis, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Allen Superior Court Trial Court Cause No. 02D06-1605-IF-7263 The Honorable John F. Surbeck, Jr., Judge, The Honorable Jason C. Custer, Magistrate

          Appellant Pro Se Philip R. Davis Fort Wayne, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Lyubov Gore Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Baker, Judge.

         [¶1] Philip Davis appeals following a judgment against him for the civil infraction of speeding. He argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss and that the trial court made erroneous evidentiary rulings. Finding no reversible error, we affirm.

         Facts

         [¶2] Around 6:00 p.m. on May 13, 2016, Fort Wayne Police Sergeant John Shank was on duty and observing traffic in an area with a speed limit of thirty miles per hour. Sergeant Shank noticed a red Cadillac driving southbound in the middle lane. The vehicle was driving faster than the cars on either side of it and had an expired license plate. Sergeant Shank's handheld radar unit showed that the vehicle was traveling at a speed of forty-nine miles per hour. He followed the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop.

         [¶3] Sergeant Shank approached Davis, the driver of the Cadillac, and asked him for his license and registration. As for the expired license plate, Davis claimed that he had paid his license registration fees but had not yet received the tag back from the State. The sergeant gave Davis the benefit of the doubt on the expired license and then issued an electronic speeding ticket. The ticket had Sergeant Shank's name, badge number, and police agency electronically printed on it.

         [¶4] On May 18, 2016, the State filed a complaint and summons alleging that Davis had committed the infraction of speeding. The complaint and summons also had Sergeant Shank's name, badge number, and police agency electronically printed on them, as well as a signature by the deputy prosecutor.

         [¶5] On August 2, 2016, Davis filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the case should be dismissed because Sergeant Shank's printed name on the ticket, complaint, and summons did not constitute a signature. The trial court denied the motion, finding that a non-electronic signature was not required by statute and that if there was a defect, it was a mere technicality that did not have the effect of preventing the reasonable objectives of the statutorily prescribed requirements from being met.

         [¶6] Davis's jury trial was held on August 4, 2016. Before trial, Davis informed the trial court that he intended to introduce records of his vehicle's maintenance, which were dated after May 14, 2016. The State objected on relevance grounds, on grounds that the exhibit was not on any exhibit list, and on foundational grounds because no witness would be called to support the admission of the exhibit. The trial court sustained the State's objection. Davis did not attempt to introduce the exhibit at trial or make an offer of proof.

         [¶7] At trial, Davis admitted that he was driving at a speed of forty-nine miles per hour in an area with a speed limit of thirty miles per hour. He insisted that he did this out of necessity because his vehicle was overheating at the time and he was attempting to get the vehicle home or to a mechanic. To address Davis's necessity defense, the State sought to elicit testimony from Davis regarding the type of specialty license plate he had. Davis wondered, "Can I ask the relevance of this?" Tr. p. 35. The State responded that it was relevant to the necessity defense, and the trial court permitted the question. Davis answered the question and did not object. The jury found Davis liable for the infraction of speeding and did not order him to pay any damages. Davis now appeals.

         Discussion ...


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