Thomas A. DeCola, Appellant-Petitioner,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Respondent
from the Jasper Superior Court The Honorable Russell D.
Bailey, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 37D01-1802-MI-81
Appellant Pro Se Thomas A. DeCola North Judson, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Henry A. Flores, Jr. Deputy Attorney General
Thomas DeCola appeals the trial court's order denying his
request to expunge any and all records pertaining to a school
suspension. DeCola also argues that he was improperly denied
a jury trial. Finding no error, we affirm.
DeCola was suspended from Kankakee Valley High School in
2001; because of this, his driving privileges were
subsequently suspended. DeCola regained his driving privileges
On February 6, 2018, DeCola petitioned the trial court to
expunge any and all records pertaining to his 2001 school
suspension. On February 13, 2018, the trial court denied the
petition to expunge. Shortly thereafter, on February 20,
2018, DeCola filed a new expungement petition and a motion to
At a hearing on March 8, 2018, the trial court denied both
the new petition to expunge and the motion to correct error.
At the hearing, the trial court made clear that DeCola could
not identify any relevant statute as a basis for his claim.
DeCola now appeals.
DeCola presents two arguments on appeal: (1) the trial court
erred when it denied his request to expunge any and all
records pertaining to his 2001 school suspension; and (2) he
was entitled to a jury trial.
We reverse a lower court's ruling denying a petition to
expunge only where the decision is clearly against the logic
and effect of the facts and circumstances before it.
Cline v. State, 61 N.E.3d 360, 362 (Ind.Ct.App.
First, DeCola's claim that the trial court improperly
denied his petition to expunge the school suspension from his
record is totally without merit. The Indiana Code does not
allow for an individual to have a school suspension expunged
from his records. Rather, expungement as a remedy is limited
to criminal arrests and convictions. Ind. Code §
35-38-9-2(-5). DeCola would have us act as legislators and
add school suspension to the list of penalties capable of
being expunged, which we may not do. Any collateral argument
that DeCola makes based on precedent and stare
decisis is equally unfounded and without any merit. We
hold that the trial court did not err in denying DeCola's
amended petition for expungement of the school suspension
from his records.
Second, DeCola's claim that the trial court erred when it
did not conduct a jury trial fails as a matter of substance.
Indiana Trial Rule 38(A) specifies that "[a]ny party may
demand a trial by jury of any issue triable of right by a
jury." (Emphasis added). Historically, the only
issues that were deemed triable by a jury were those
available at common law. Cardinal Health Ventures, Inc.
v. Scanameo, 85 N.E.3d 637, 640 (Ind.Ct.App. 2017). The
common law era predates modernity, and it has been the
province of today's courts to determine whether a
particular claim would have been legal or equitable.
Id. Generally, claims which were equitable rather
than legal in nature were tried by a court rather than by a
jury. Lewandowski v. Beverly, 420 N.E.2d 1278, 1282
(Ind.Ct.App. 1981). Therefore, if the issue was equitable