Of major significance to the outcome of a case can often become what judge has been assigned to hear a case in question. In Hamilton County all dui cases are first filed before the “Magistrate” Court, sometimes referred to as Hamilton Superior Court 7.
The judge presiding over a first court appearance within this court is not the judge who will ultimately be assigned to the case. Rather, the case will eventually be randomly assigned to be heard within one of the three superior courts (Hamilton County Superior Court 4, 5 or 6) where all other court dates and legal action will commence. The judge within initial hearing court in Noblesville will merely serve to communicate the charge(s) filed, determine counsel assigned to represent a given defendant and where applicable, inform an individual of the suspension of his or her driving privileges from the initial hearing date forward until a case resolution.
So as to preserve impartiality in the disposition of all criminal cases filed, neither a prosecuting attorney nor defense attorney is empowered to alter the course of which court and judge will be given the authority to preside over the prosecution in question. As a result, it is essential that the defense attorney in Hamilton County understand not only the unique rules governing the particular court, but also the most effective strategies to employ when seeking the most advantageous result before a given judge.
Although sensible people would make the assumption that all courts are uniform in the procedures and standards by which rulings are administered, in Hamilton County such is not often the case. This can be unfortunate, as it is often offensive to notions of justice for one individual to be subjected to harsher punishment due to the random assignment before one particular judge over another.
Most criminal courts within a given community strive to maintain a sense of uniformity in court procedures and/or sentencing among judges in order to guard against random court assignments wielding divergent outcomes. However, at the present time within Hamilton County not only do the courts employ different procedures by which prosecutions are governed, but more significantly, Hamilton County judges often impose different criteria by which to assess punishment in the event a dui prosecution cannot be dismissed.
For example, in the event that a client is best served by a pre trial agreement to resolve a case before trial, it will be necessary to secure the approval of the respective judge in order to allow such an agreement to be effectuated. Where many judges will rarely intervene to reject the desired and agreed outcome put forth between the prosecutor and defense attorney, judge(s) in Noblesville are far more willing to intervene to reject such an agreement if contravening dictated standards by the particular judge.
Knowing the standards of each of the 3 superior judges in Hamilton County is therefore essential in the dispensing of a client’s case in the most favorable manner possible. Depending upon the severity of the case in question, knowing how to secure the pre approval of sentencing options such as home detention and/or work release as an alternative to incarceration is often dependent upon understanding each of the three Hamilton County dui judge’s unique standards by which to administer what is permissible within the Indiana criminal code.
Far too frequently I have had to take control over the representation of cases initially handled by attorneys from counties other than Hamilton where counsel has made erroneous assumptions as to court procedure and potential outcomes based upon a limited understanding of local rules and custom of given Hamilton County Superior Court judges.
Potential inconsistencies in procedure and outcome is less than ideal for experienced defense attorneys working diligently for the best outcome for a given client. With that said, it is essential that the attorney assuming the responsibility of providing a capable defense understand the realities of how to guide a client to the best outcome possible based upon understanding and experience before the given judge assigned within Hamilton County.