ILNews

COA: Defendant had imperfect, yet fair trial

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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Defendants are entitled to fair trials, not perfect ones, and the imperfections of one defendant's trial didn't deprive him of a fair trial, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals. The court upheld the murder conviction of John Myers II, who was convicted two years ago of killing IU student Jill Behrman in 2000. Authoring Judge Cale Bradford wrote in the 44-page opinion, John R. Myers II v. State of Indiana, No. 55A05-0703-CR-148, the court acknowledges there were certain discrete imperfections at Myers' trial, but these imperfections were isolated in nature and didn't deprive Myers the right to a fair trial. "As the State conceded at oral argument, Myers's trial may have been cleaner without these imperfections, but, separately or jointly, they were not sufficiently egregious to undermine our confidence in the trial proceedings leading to his conviction sufficient to constitute reversible error. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one," he wrote.

Myers brought up numerous issues on appeal including the denial of his motion for change of venue, jury misconduct, and insufficient evidence to support the conviction. The appellate court unanimously upheld his conviction, which covered eight alleged errors by the trial court. On his motion for change of venue, Judge Bradford wrote that Myers failed to demonstrate community-wide prejudice requiring the change of venue, and the only biased statements in the record were made by jury pool members who weren't empanelled. Myers alleged that his motion for a mistrial should have been granted because the jurors violated rules regarding cell phone and telephone use and also violated rules about consuming alcohol. Myers again failed to show that the jurors' behavior harmed him or the outcome of his trial. There was no evidence any of the jurors were under the influence of alcohol during deliberations, Judge Bradford wrote. The appellate court also found sufficient evidence to support Myers' conviction.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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