ELKHART — A status conference has been set for approximately noon, Wednesday, Aug. 24, regarding an order issued by Elkhart Superior Court 1 Judge Evan S. Roberts, in the case against C. Aaron Rovenstine. The status conference will be conducted either telephonically or in person.
According to court documents filed Tuesday, Aug. 16, the matter will be to discuss the court’s Aug. 9 order addressing transcripts of the grand jury testimony of witnesses the state plans to call for trial. The hearing was initiated after the court received communication from the Kosciusko Circuit Court Reporter and a telephone conversation.
The court had ordered the prosecution to disclose the transcripts of the grand jury minutes containing the testimony of witnesses testifying before the grand jury and the state may call at trial within a reasonable period of time from the date of the order.
During the last hearing the requests of Rovenstine’s attorneys for discovery were heard. The defense counsel made three discovery requests in the case, with only two were under consideration in the order. The second request for discovery requested: minutes from the impaneling of the grand jury that indicted Rovenstine; the voir dire of the prospective jurors of the grand jury; and instructions relating to the duties of the grand jurors given by the Kosciusko Circuit Court that presided over the grand jury proceedings; a copy of the mandatory charge given to the grand jury; and names of the grand jurors and names of witnesses who testified before that grand jury.
The requests were renewed by defense July 8, and added a further request for transcripts of the testimony of witnesses who testified and who the state intended to call at trail.
Roberts noted in the order the state had already provided information sought in a third discovery request and the parties agreed the state had provided a considerable supply of information during discovery. The defense counsel, however, objected to the form in which it was conveyed, arguing the state provided a voluminous amount of information with little indication which information was relevant to the defense.
Roberst stated the second request could be disposed of quickly as the state does not provide criminal defendants an absolute right to pretrial examination of grand jury minutes. The second request failed to demonstrate a particularized need, as required by the state. The request did not show or allege an injustice would result from Rovenstine not being given the information sought and the defense arguments did not indicate the long-standing policy of grand jury secrecy is outweighed by the defense’s need for information listed in the second request.
Roberts did agree the defense is entitled to the grand jury minutes containing testimony of witnesses whom the state may call as witnesses at the trial. The Kosciusko County Criminal Rule provides the state must disclose the information. “As such, if the state has not yet disclosed this information to defendant, it is ordered to do so within a reasonable period of time after the date of this order. Lastly, as the state has indicated, it has already complied with defendant’s third discovery request for the names of the witnesses who testified before the grand jury, so a ruling on this request in unnecessary.”
An additional status conference is still slated for 1 p.m. Sept. 23, in Elkhart Superior Court 1, with the six-day trial set to begin Feb. 7, 2017.