State court sends case back to Blair
The state Superior Court has sent a DUI case back to Blair County for clarification of the legal issues involved in an appeal, noting that “the case presents a procedural quagmire of sorts.”
The state appeals court has been attempting for months to obtain a detailed statement of the legal issues from the viewpoint of the defendant, Larry E. Smith, 37, of Altoona, but has been having difficulty because Smith is serving as his own attorney.
Court records listed Senior Judge Daniel L. Howsare of Bedford County as presiding over the appeal of the case.
Howsare last March filed an explanation of his opinion that Smith had raised “no valid issues” to justify overturning his convictions on two counts of DUI, one count of hit-and-run and one count of an accident involving damage to an unattended vehicle.
Smith had challenged the “sufficiency of the evidence” used to convict him.
He was convicted on Jan. 14, 2016, and received 3.5 to six years in a state correctional institution.
Initially he did not appeal his conviction but eventually asked that his appeal rights be reinstated.
A court-appointed attorney was successful in regaining Smith’s right to file an appeal, but the attorney never followed through with the required detailed explanation of the legal issues that were to be before the Superior Court.
Smith in April 2017 asked that his case been sent back to Blair County for a hearing to determine if he should be granted a new court-appointed attorney or if he was competent enough to represent himself.
Howsare ruled that Smith be permitted to act as his own attorney.
The Blair County prothonotary was ordered to provide Smith with the necessary documents to move ahead with his case, and he was to provide the Superior Court with his legal brief by Sept. 25, 2017.
He then asked for an extension, which was granted.
His appeal to the Superior Court wasn’t filed until Dec. 4, 2017, but he did not file the required statement of legal issues.
In an opinion issued last Friday afternoon, a three-judge panel that included Anne E. Lazarus, Deborah A. Kunselman and Correale F. Stevens sent the case back to Blair County once again and stated the judge should order Smith to clarify the legal issues.
The Superior Court also wants the judge to address whatever issues Smith’s raises in his statement.
Smith is housed in the State Correctional Institution at Rockview.State court sends case back to Blair