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Judges reverse 8 forgery convictions based on fake ballot signatures

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A St. Joseph County man charged with multiple counts of forgery after falsifying signatures on an election ballot petition for Barack Obama in 2008 was not prejudiced when the state was allowed to amend the charging information at the end of his trial. But, the Indiana Court of Appeals held the evidence only supports convicting him of one count of forgery, not nine.

Dustin Blythe and three others were charged in 2012 after officials accused them of forging signatures on petitions to get Democratic presidential candidates on the primary ballot. Blythe was employed by the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office at the time he allegedly falsified the ballot petitions.

Blythe faced nine counts of Class C forgery and one count of Class D felony falsely making a petition of nomination. The state alleged that he knowingly uttered a written instrument that purported to have been made by another person or by authority of one who did not give authority, by forging signatures on the election ballot petitions. Blythe’s defense focused on the term “uttered” and his attorney argued based on the definition, he did not do any of the things included under that definition.

After Blythe presented his defense, the prosecution moved to amend the charging information to instead say Blythe knowingly “made or uttered” the written instrument. Blythe argued allowing the change would prejudice him or require a new trial, but the judge allowed the amendment. Blythe was convicted as charged.

In Dustin Blythe v. State of Indiana, 71A03-1306-CR-228, the Court of Appeals found no error by the trial court in allowing the state to make the late change to the charging information. Judge Elaine Brown pointed out that the defense Blythe presented would have been the same if the change had been made before trial. He was able to present an appropriate defense to the amended charges, “and in fact did so from the commencement of his trial,” she wrote.

But the trial court did err when it denied his motion on the judgment with respect to forger counts II through IX. The evidence supports just one conviction of forgery because the falsified signatures were placed on ballot petitions during a relatively short period of time in the county and the placement of the falsified signatures was performed for a single purpose.

The judges ordered eight of his forgery counts vacated, as well as his conviction of Class D felony falsely making a petition of nomination because that is a factually lesser-included offense of the forgeries alleged in counts I through IX.

 

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  • still a historic case
    Fair enough appeal decision however it remains a historic case that shows up serious questions about the legitimacy of American socalled democracy. We hear a lot of condemnation of foreign elections in the news but ours don't always look so pretty. IN the instant case it was amazing that the democratic party was doing work for and rowing hard in favor of certain candidates in its own primary to the detriment of some serious and legitimate democratic primary contenders. Maybe we should take a look at reforming primary system so that entrenched candidates with tons of donors can't squash their challengers so easily. We might even be so daring as to consider proportional representation such as operates in other western parliamentary systems and allows for third party voices to actually be heard instead of always sidelined.

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  1. The voices of the prophets are more on blogs than subway walls these days, Dawn. Here is the voice of one calling out in the wilderness ... against a corrupted judiciary ... that remains corrupt a decade and a half later ... due to, so sadly, the acquiescence of good judges unwilling to shake the forest ... for fear that is not faith .. http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2013/09/prof-alan-dershowitz-on-indiana.html

  2. So I purchased a vehicle cash from the lot on West Washington in Feb 2017. Since then I found it the vehicle had been declared a total loss and had sat in a salvage yard due to fire. My title does not show any of that. I also have had to put thousands of dollars into repairs because it was not a solid vehicle like they stated. I need to find out how to contact the lawyers on this lawsuit.

  3. It really doesn't matter what the law IS, if law enforcement refuses to take reports (or take them seriously), if courts refuse to allow unrepresented parties to speak (especially in Small Claims, which is supposedly "informal"). It doesn't matter what the law IS, if constituents are unable to make effective contact or receive any meaningful response from their representatives. Two of our pets were unnecessarily killed; court records reflect that I "abandoned" them. Not so; when I was denied one of them (and my possessions, which by court order I was supposed to be able to remove), I went directly to the court. And earlier, when I tried to have the DV PO extended (it expired while the subject was on probation for violating it), the court denied any extension. The result? Same problems, less than eight hours after expiration. Ironic that the county sheriff was charged (and later pleaded to) with intimidation, but none of his officers seemed interested or capable of taking such a report from a private citizen. When I learned from one officer what I needed to do, I forwarded audio and transcript of one occurrence and my call to law enforcement (before the statute of limitations expired) to the prosecutor's office. I didn't even receive an acknowledgement. Earlier, I'd gone in to the prosecutor's office and been told that the officer's (written) report didn't match what I said occurred. Since I had the audio, I can only say that I have very little faith in Indiana government or law enforcement.

  4. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  5. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

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