‘Appeals on Wheels’ program coming to Columbus Nov. 13th

The Ivy Tech Community College Criminal Justice Club will host a State of Indiana Court of Appeals hearing at 1 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Columbus Learning Center Auditorium. The hearing, which is part of the court’s traveling “Appeals on Wheels” program, is open to the public, and community members are encouraged to attend to learn more about the judiciary and appeals process.

The court will hear oral arguments in the case of Sebastian D. Durstock vs. the State of Indiana. Durstock is appealing his conviction of dealing in a narcotic drug, a Level 2 felony, and sentence of 17 and a half years in prison with two and a half years suspended to probation.

The case stems from an incident on Jan. 13, 2017, in which Lawrenceburg police officers and emergency medical providers responded to the report of an unconscious woman. As they were assisting the woman, officers heard water running in the restroom. According to the case, Sebastian Durstock walked out of the restroom, and officers noticed that he appeared to be under the influence of opiates. A resident of the apartment gave officers permission to search the bathroom, where the officers found a backpack containing a gun and a scale. The officers did a pat down search of Durstock for weapons and said they felt an object consistent with a syringe in his pocket. Officers removed the item, which they said was a syringe, and placed Durstock under arrest for unlawful possession of a syringe. During a search due to the arrest, officers found a bag containing fentanyl in Durstock’s pocket.

Durstock’s appeal raises three issues: whether the trial court erred by admitting evidence found on Durstock’s person during the pat down search; whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his conviction; and whether his sentence is inappropriate.

Traveling oral arguments are just like oral arguments in the Court’s Statehouse courtroom. A bailiff calls the court into session, the judges enter, and lawyers for the parties present their arguments to the judges and answer the judges’ questions. Following the hearing, the court will take questions about the law and the judiciary in general, but not about the case they’ve just heard.