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Roper v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 9, 2017

Lawrence Benton Roper, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Appeal from the Monroe Circuit Court The Honorable Kenneth G. Todd, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 53C03-1506-F2-618

          Attorney for Appellant Patrick V. Baker

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Deputy Attorney General

          May, Judge.

         [¶1] Lawrence Benton Roper appeals his convictions of two counts of Level 4 felony dealing cocaine[1] and one count each of Level 5 felony dealing cocaine[2] and Level 5 felony dealing a narcotic drug.[3] He argues his convictions should be discharged because the trial court did not comply with his Criminal Rule 4(B) request for a speedy trial. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On June 25, 2015, the State charged Roper with three counts of Level 4 felony dealing cocaine, [4] and one count each of Level 2 felony dealing cocaine, [5] Level 4 felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, [6] and Level 5 felony dealing a narcotic drug. The State further alleged Roper was a habitual offender.[7] At his initial hearing on June 25, 2015, Roper indicated he thought he "would be [his] best attorney in all this, " (Tr. at 8), and proceeded pro se. He also verbally requested a "fast and speedy trial." (Id. at 10.) The judge at that hearing stated, "I'll make sure that Judge Todd gives to you notice about the fast and speedy trial. . . . [Y]ou need to talk to Judge Todd about that when you see him." (Id. at 10, 13.)

         [¶3] At the June 25 hearing, the court set a pretrial conference date for August 27, 2015. Between June 25 and August 27, Roper sent multiple pieces of correspondence to the court regarding statements by another person allegedly involved in the crimes. On August 7, 2015, the State filed a Motion to Set Cause for Jury Trial. The court did not rule on that motion.

         [¶4] On August 27, 2015, the parties appeared in court, but the pre-trial hearing was continued to September 24, 2015.[8] The Chronological Case Summary ("CCS") entry for that hearing reads: "Defendant appears in custody. This cause set for further pretrial on September 24, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. Defendant may hire private counsel." (Appellant's App. Vol. 2 at 4.) That same day, the court entered a Pretrial Order that indicates the State's anticipated witnesses, the State's anticipated exhibits, and the State's plea offer, and orders another "pretrial conference on 9/24/15 at 1:30 p.m." (Id. at 41.) The CCS does not indicate the parties filed any pleadings between August 27, 2015, and September 24, 2015.

         [¶5] On September 24, 2015, Roper appeared pro se at the pretrial hearing and requested a continuance because he had hired private counsel on September 23. Roper signed a motion for continuance that contained a waiver of his right to a speedy trial under "Criminal Rule 4." (Id. at 42.) The trial court granted Roper's motion for a continuance and set the case for jury trial on November 30, 2015, and a pretrial conference on October 19, 2015.

         [¶6] At the pretrial conference on October 19, the court found Roper indigent, appointed counsel for him, and set the next hearing for November 19. On November 19, Roper moved for a continuance of the trial, and the court reset trial for February 22, 2016. On January 14, 2016, Roper moved for a continuance, and the court reset trial for April 18, 2016. In March and early April, the court dealt with some pre-trial evidentiary issues. Roper's jury trial began on April 18 and ended April 21. The jury found him guilty of four of six charges, and Roper then pled guilty to being a habitual offender and waived his right to be sentenced within thirty days.

         [¶7] On May 31, 2016, Roper filed a motion to discharge his conviction, arguing the trial court had failed to bring him to trial within the time required by Criminal Rule 4(B). The State filed a response to his motion. The court held a hearing as to the motion on the same day as Roper's sentencing[9] and denied Roper's motion for discharge.

          Discussion and Decision

         [¶8] Roper argues the trial court erred when it did not grant his motion for discharge under Indiana ...


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