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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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