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COA splits on reversing convictions for Batson violation

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A divided Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a defendant’s convictions, including attempted battery with a deadly weapon, finding the state’s explanations for striking the only African-American from the jury were pretextual and purposeful discrimination.

In Jerrme Cartwright v. State of Indiana, No. 82A01-1005-CR-214, Jerrme Cartwright appealed his convictions of two counts of attempted battery with a deadly weapon as Class C felonies, two counts of attempted aggravated battery as Class B felonies, one count of possession of a handgun by a serious violent felon as a Class B felony, and his 26-year aggregate sentence.

The charges stem from a fight at an American Legion in Evansville involving Cartwright. Tiffany Boyd, her husband, Jamar Boyd, Michael Lockridge, Marcus Lockridge, Shaudarekkia Beattie, and her sister, Linda Beattie left after the altercation in which Jamar was injured. They all went to Linda’s home because it was nearby. While they were outside of the home, a crowd began to form. They saw Jerrme Cartwright walking toward them with a gun and he started shooting at the crowd and in the air. Police arrived; Cartwright fled and was later arrested.

In his appeal, Cartwright challenges the removal of the only African-American from the jury. The appellate court found he made a prima facie showing under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), that the peremptory challenge was exercised on the basis of race. The prosecutor offered several race-neutral explanations for removing the juror, including health reasons and his admittance to not being a good listener. Judges James Kirsch and Paul Mathias decided to reverse Cartwright’s convictions because based on the record, they couldn’t determine which one of the state’s proffered explanations the trial court relied on to deny the Batson challenge.

“The State failed to inquire into such reasons or to develop anything beyond the most superficial of records regarding its reasons. We conclude that the State’s proffered explanations for striking the only African-American juror from the jury panel were pretextual and the result of purposeful discrimination,” wrote Judge Kirsch.  

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, believing the appellate court should give more deference to the trial court’s decision because the state of mind of a juror, evaluation of demeanor, and credibility lies within a trial court’s province.

She wrote that the state’s justifications for striking the African-American juror were all supported by the record and that several other jurors were also stricken for similar reasons.

The majority ordered Cartwright be retried on the charges, including the attempted battery with a deadly weapon charges, which he claimed there was insufficient evidence to support.

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  2. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  3. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  4. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

  5. They ruled there is no absolute right to keep a license, whether it be for a lifetime or a short period of time. So with that being said, this state taught me at the age of 15 how to obtain that license. I am actually doing something that I was taught to do, I'm not breaking the law breaking the rules and according to the Interstate Compact the National Interstate Compact...driving while suspended is a minor offense. So, do with that what you will..Indiana sucks when it comes to the driving laws, they really and truly need to reevaluate their priorities and honestly put the good of the community first... I mean, what's more important the pedophile drug dealer or wasting time and money to keep us off the streets?

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