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COA discusses jury-selection procedures

April 21, 2010

Despite being sensitive to a defendant's concerns about having no African-Americans included in his jury pool, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his felony convictions of altering an original identification number and auto theft.

Darmon D. Bond challenged his felony convictions, arguing that the lack of African-Americans in the jury pool violated his Sixth Amendment jury trial rights; the admission of fingerprint test results violated his Sixth Amendment confrontation rights; and there wasn't sufficient evidence to support his conviction.

Police found a man's missing car parked outside Bond's home. The vehicle identification number and license plate didn't match the car. A forensic lab technician dusted for fingerprints and found prints on duct tape and the paper license plate; an examiner identified the prints as those of Bond. The technician and examiner testified at trial, but the person responsible for verifying the first examiner's results didn't appear or testify.

Bond had moved to strike the entire venire because it didn't represent a fair cross-section of the community, but the judge denied the motion, noting how the jury-panel selection process is entirely random.

In Darmon D. Bond v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0910-CR-457, the appellate court determined it was bound by Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 364 (1979), and Ewing v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1221, 1226 (Ind. 1999), and that Bond's claim can't prevail under Duren. Bond still asked the appellate court to change the criteria for determining whether the jury-selection procedure actually produces juries that are representative cross-sections of the community.

Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote the court was sensitive to Bond's concerns because jury-selection procedures in Indiana have changed recently in that the lists are now created by the state Judicial Center. Also, in other race- or gender-based constitutional jury challenges, the burden shifts more easily to the state to establish the legitimacy and neutrality of its procedures.

"Given the practical difficulties of showing systematic exclusion of minorities from jury pools in Indiana, we think easing the Duren burden for Hoosiers may be worth considering," she wrote, noting it's a good first step that the selection procedures are available online.

The appellate court also found that the method the examiner claimed to use was followed and her opinion was admissible. And because the absent examiner's results were never referenced at his trial, there is no predicate for a Sixth Amendment confrontation violation. The judges also affirmed sufficient evidence to support Bond's convictions.

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