ILNews

High court orders new murder trial

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court overturned a Fulton County man’s murder sentence because a detective continued with the interview even after the man invoked his right to counsel several times.

James Carr got into an argument with his friend and shot him in the face after his friend provoked him several times to do it. His friend died. Afterward, Carr drove to a bar and admitted to the bartender he killed the friend.

Carr claimed that he unequivocally and repeatedly invoked his right to counsel, so his statements made about the murder to the detective shouldn’t have been admitted into evidence. The state argued Carr’s requests for an attorney were ambiguous and if not, that any resulting error was harmless.

In James A. Carr v. State of Indiana, No. 25S04-1004-CR-219, the justices agreed with Carr, pointing out several times in the transcript of the police interview in which Carr said he wanted to speak to an attorney or have an attorney with him during questioning. The detective acknowledged that was his right, but continued on with the interview by steering the conversation back to the murder. They also found Carr’s answers to the detective’s questions weren’t a valid waiver of his right to counsel.

When Carr invoked his right to counsel, the detective should have ended the questioning immediately until his attorney was present.

“Instead, the detective's ongoing conversation initiated further custodial interrogation, and the defendant's subsequent disclosures were not a product of his own initiation of communication,” wrote Justice Brent Dickson.

In addition, the admittance of these statements into evidence was not a harmless error as they contained considerable details regarding Carr’s state of mind during the killing, which are details that weren’t provided by any other evidence. They reversed and remanded for a new trial.

The high court also addressed Carr’s appeal of his denial of motion for discharge for delay under Indiana Criminal Rule 4. He argued two of his continuance requests should have been properly attributed to the state.

“It has not been uncommon for lawyers and courts to address Rule 4 claims in part by considering whether delay should be 'chargeable to the State,' but the role of the State is an irrelevant consideration in the analysis,” wrote Justice Dickson. “The Rule does not call for any attribution of delay to the State but only for delay attributable to the defendant or insufficient time due to court congestion or emergency. Employing the rhetoric of 'delay chargeable to the State' should be avoided.”

In Carr’s case, both delays he argued were attributable to the state were actually attributable to him, so the trial court didn’t err in attributing the delays to him.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

ADVERTISEMENT