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Watson v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 31, 2019

Stanley Watson, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Ripley Circuit Court The Honorable James D. Humphrey, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No. 69C01-0010-CF-52

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Leanna Weissmann Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Samuel J. Dayton Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          Baker, Judge.

         [¶1] After serving nearly eleven years in the Department of Correction as an habitual offender, Stanley Watson attained post-conviction relief and had his habitual offender status vacated. The State then filed a new petition alleging that Watson was an habitual offender based on other information. After continuances, delays, and recusals amounting to another six and two-thirds years, Watson was once again adjudicated to be an habitual offender. Now, Watson appeals his habitual offender status, arguing that his right to a speedy trial was violated pursuant to Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C). Finding that the State failed to bring Watson to court within the one-year deadline, we reverse and remand with instructions to vacate Watson's habitual offender status.

         Facts[1]

         [¶2] In 2001, Watson was convicted of Class A felony dealing in cocaine and Class A conspiracy to deliver cocaine following a jury trial. In a separate hearing, the jury also adjudicated Watson to be an habitual offender based on convictions from 1990, 1992, and 1997. Then, on August 28, 2001, the trial court sentenced Watson to fifty years imprisonment, enhanced by thirty years due to the habitual offender adjudication, for an aggregate sentence of eighty years.

         [¶3] However, on April 2, 2012, the trial court granted Watson's petition for post- conviction relief and vacated the habitual offender adjudication, finding that two of the three felonies cited by the State could not form the basis of an habitual offender adjudication. The State was granted leave to amend the information, and on November 28, 2012, the State refiled its habitual offender allegation based on three other convictions from 1972, 1977, and 1981.

         [¶4] The following represents the long procedural history of this case after the State refiled the habitual offender allegation:

• On January 11, 2013, Watson moved to continue the hearing originally set for January 29, 2013. The trial court granted the motion on January 14, 2013, and scheduled the new hearing for September 10, 2013.
• On September 13, 2013, Watson moved to continue the hearing again, with Watson's counsel stating that he had been "unable to secure [Watson's] attendance," appellant's app. vol. ii p. 102, for the September 10, 2013, hearing because Watson was in federal prison for an unrelated matter. The trial court granted Watson's motion and scheduled the new hearing for June 3, 2014.
• On November 14, 2013, the trial court sua sponte-and without explanation-rescheduled Watson's hearing for July 8, 2014.
• On June 12, 2014, Watson again moved to continue the July 8, 2014, hearing because Watson's counsel was working on a murder trial and could not be present at the July 8 hearing. On June 16, 2014, the trial court granted Watson's motion and rescheduled the hearing for February 10, 2015.
• Then, on January 21, 2015, the trial court judge issued an order recusing himself from all proceedings related to Watson's habitual offender status, citing a conflict of interest.
• A new special judge was appointed for the matter on January 28, 2015. However, the new special judge did not accept his appointment until August 12, 2015, after entering an order detailing his assignment.[2]
• On October 20, 2015, the trial court set the matter for pretrial conference on March 8, 2015, [3] and for hearing on April 5, 2016. On March 2, 2016, the trial court sua sponte rescheduled the pretrial conference for March 9, 2016.
• At the March 9, 2016, pretrial conference, the State moved to continue the proceedings, which the trial court granted over Watson's objections. The trial court then scheduled the new pretrial conference for September 12, 2016, and the new hearing for October 18, 2016. Later, on May 10, 2016, the trial court sua sponte moved the hearing to October 4, 2016, two weeks earlier ...

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