Man in court on 2009 misdemeanor

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A 2009 misdemeanor case that could have been settled in less than a year brought a Terre Haute man into Putnam County Superior Court Friday morning.

The 54-year-old man’s initial hearing began oddly enough, with a bit of a laugh from Judge Denny Bridges.

“This is a case from 2009?” Bridges asked with a chuckle.

“Yes it is,” the defendant replied with a sheepish grin.

“Then you get the award for the oldest case of the day,” Bridges said, eventually adding, “and it’s a misdemeanor.”

Specifically, the man is charged with a Class A misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license dating back to March 2009. An apparent clerical error kept him from being arrested until now.

“Do you still live at 900 1/2 St., Terre Haute,” Bridges asked.

“No, there is no such address,” the man said. “There never was such an address.”

“Well, that’s why they couldn’t find you,” Bridges replied.

With no correct address at which to serve the papers and no special sense of urgency for a low-level charge, the case sat in limbo for almost eight years until the defendant was arrested Wednesday evening.

Deputy Prosecutor Jim Ensley added to the abnormal mirth of the proceedings by noting whose signature graced the original probable cause affidavit.

“It was signed by Mr. VanDerMoere,” Ensley noted.

Don VanDerMoere was the chief deputy prosecutor until he resigned in October 2009 to accept an appointment as Owen County prosecutor. In fact, it was VanDerMoere’s departure that opened a deputy prosecutor spot for Ensley.

Before concluding the brief hearing, Bridges had to ask one last question of the defendant.

“I just want to ask for morbid curiosity,” Bridges began, “what is the status of your driving privileges now?”

“I don’t drive no more,” the man said, adding that he quit following the 2009 charge. “That was the last time I drove.”

Satisfied with the response, Bridges released the man on his own recognizance, with a pre-trial conference scheduled at a later date.

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