Elkhart 4 Appeals Update #2
Friday January 24, 2014 was an active day in the appeals of 2 of the Elkhart 4. A number of important decisions were made in the appeals of Levi Sparks and Blake Layman.
The most important decision that was made was that the appeals for Blake Layman and Levi Sparks have been joined together to form one appeal. This was done under Indiana Appeals Court Rule 38, which states,
A. Cases Consolidated at Trial or Hearing. When two (2) or more actions have been consolidated for trial or hearing in the trial court or Administrative Agency, they shall remain consolidated on appeal. If any party believes that the 20 appeal should not remain consolidated, that party may file a motion to sever the consolidated appeal within thirty (30) days after the first Notice of Appeal is filed.
B. Cases Consolidated on Appeal. Where there is more than one (1) appeal from the same order or judgment or where two (2) or more appeals involve a common question of law or fact, the Court on Appeal may order a consolidation of the appeals upon its own motion, or upon the motion of any party.
It is interesting that Blake Layman and Levi Sparks have had their appeals joined together while Anthony Sharp is not involved in the joint appeal even though he has filed an appeal. Based on pure speculation this strongly suggests to us that the issue of age will be an important aspect of the appeals. Anthony Sharp was 18 at the time of the burglary so an argument based on being a juvenile is not available to him.
Other rulings on Friday dealt with financial obligations. Blake Layman has already been declared a pauper, which means that the costs of reproducing transcripts have been waved. Levi Sparks has been asked to pay for the transcripts of his sentencing hearing but no other court fees. Presumably since Blake Layman’s legal team has already had the trial transcripts prepared they do not need to have it done a second time for Levi Sparks given that both juveniles were tried in the same trial.
Another important ruling published on Friday was the deadline for the lawyers for Blake Layman and Levi Sparks to have their briefs into the court. Both briefs must be submitted to the court by February 21, 2014.
According to rule 45 of the Indiana Appeals Court once Sparks and Layman submit their briefs the State of Indiana will have 30 days to respond. Sparks and Layman will then have 15 days to respond and then the state will have 15 days to respond. At that point a decision will be made to see if the case needs to proceed to oral arguments. Most appeal cases in Indiana do not have oral arguments, but some do. Often the decision to go to oral arguments depends on the elements of the law that is being argued. The appeals court can take as long as necessary to publish a ruling.