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Court clarifies decision on jury instructions

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s request for rehearing on a case in which the judges found the trial court erred in not giving a defendant’s tendered jury instruction, but that the error was harmless. The state contended that two cases dictated that there was no error by the court.

A panel of the Court of Appeals affirmed Joseph Matheny’s conviction of Class D felony auto theft, but in doing so, concluded the trial court erred in refusing his tendered jury instruction regarding the jury’s duty to conform the evidence to the presumption that a defendant is innocent. But when looking at the totality of the circumstances, the judges originally held the error was harmless.

On rehearing in Joseph Matheny v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1207-CR-347, the state argued that the COA’s previous ruling conflicts with Santiago v. State and Albores v. State, which were decided by the appellate court in March and April 2013, respectively. In those decisions, the judges found that the concept that the jury should attempt to fit the evidence to the presumption that the accused is innocent was adequately covered by the trial court’s instructions. Those decisions also distinguished Lee v. State, 964 N.E.2d 859 (Ind. Ct. App. 2012), in which jury instructions were not as detailed and the jury was not instructed that the presumption of innocence prevails throughout trial.

“As in Lee, the jury in this case was not instructed that the presumption of innocence prevails throughout the trial. Accordingly, we reach a different conclusion than Santiago and Albores because the instructions that the trial court gave the jury did not adequately convey the substance of Matheny’s tendered instruction,” Judge Terry Crone wrote Monday.

“In this case, such an instruction was requested, refused, and not adequately covered by the given instructions, and therefore the trial court abused its discretion.”

The appellate panel also denied the state’s claim that it used a “magic words” approach in its original decision and failed to consider the entirety of the jury instructions given at trial. Crone wrote that the state’s argument simply ignores the fact that the instructions in Matheny were different from those given in Santiago and Albores.

 

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  • Constitution
    Indiana Constitution: Article 1, Section 19. In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts.

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  1. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  2. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  3. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

  4. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  5. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

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