. . . We have accepted jurisdiction to clarify that a defendant claiming a violation of a local felony case assignment rule need not establish prejudice to prevail on appeal. Concluding no such violation occurred here, closely, we affirm.
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To prevent forum shopping aimed at obtaining a judge believed to be more favorable to the State—even in cases in which the perceived advantage might be open to doubt—this Court has obliged the trial courts of each county to formulate a local rule for the nondiscretionary assigning of all felony and misdemeanor cases. Ind. Crim. Rule 2.2. The judges in each county design a rule that fits with local circumstances and submit the plan for approval by the Indiana Supreme Court. Ind. Crim. Rule 2.2.
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Concluding that Harris could not show he had suffered any prejudice, the Court of Appeals declined to reach the merits of Harris’s claim that the prosecutor violated Local Rule 29. Harris, at *8–9. We think that requiring a defendant to establish prejudice sets the bar too high and therefore hold that a defendant need not do so to win a reversal.
In a civil case, any party may request a change of judge as of right—for any reason or none at all. Ind. Trial Rule 77(B). But in a criminal case, a defendant may obtain a change of judge only on a showing of judicial bias or prejudice. Ind. Crim. Rule 12(B). To be sure, Criminal Rule 12(B) applies to the State as well. But the purpose of Criminal Rule 2.2 is to prevent the State from gaining, at the moment of filing, an advantage that might not rise to the level of the bias or prejudice that would entitle a defendant to a change of judge under Criminal Rule 12(B).
The trial court denied Harris’s original motion to transfer the case, concluding that the prosecutor properly filed charges in Howard Superior Court I because an earlier charge was pending against Harris in Superior Court I on the date Harris committed his second offense. For his part, Harris contends the “another charge pending” exception does not apply because, although there was another charge pending on the date Harris committed his second offense, the first charge had been resolved by the time the second charge was filed.
Although Harris’s interpretation of Local Rule 29 has some force, the trial court’s reading of its own rule, approved here through the standard process, is a plausible one entitled to some deference on appeal. We are thus inclined to accept its interpretation and conclude that no violation occurred.
Dickson, Sullivan, Rucker, and David, JJ., concur.