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Appellate Procedure

State v. Holtsclaw (Ind. November 5, 2012)

In this case, the Indiana Supreme Court held that Appellate Rule 9, which tolls the thirty-day deadline for filing a notice of appeal when a party files a motion to correct error, applies not only in civil cases, but also to the State in a criminal case. This decision reversed the Court of Appeals decision which held the State had forfeited the appeal by failing to file its notice of appeal within the thirty-day deadline.

This decision turned on whether Appellate Rule 9, which tolls the thirty-deadline to file a notice of appeal “if any party files a timely motion to correct error” prevailed over Indiana Code section 35-38-4-2, which allowed the State to appeal only orders granting motions to suppress or orders granting motions to correct error. The Supreme Court applied the well-established principle that the Supreme Court’s rules prevail over any conflicting law. See State ex rel. Crawford v. Del. Cir. Ct., 655 N.E.2d 499, 500 (Ind. 1995); Ind. Code § 34-8-1-3.

The only window the Supreme Court left open was in its holding that the defendant waived his constitutional argument by failing to appropriately develop and support the argument. However, this argument would likely fail to prevail even if properly raised, as the rule that the Supreme Court’s rules prevail over statutes has constitutional roots itself.

This case serves as a reminder that statutes enacted by the legislature may be either void or of limited scope based on their conflict with Trial Rules or Appellate Rules. Counsel addressing statutes that affect trial or appellate procedure should be sure to perform an analysis of whether any court rule conflicts with the statute.

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