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COA orders new trial in resisting law enforcement case

December 28, 2011

A Marion County judge violated a defendant’s right to due process when it allowed the charge of resisting law enforcement to go to trial even though the defendant showed purposeful discrimination by the prosecution during voir dire, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

In Michael Collier v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-1105-CR-229, the Court of Appeals reversed Michael Collier’s conviction of Class D felony resisting law enforcement and ordered a new trial. During voir dire, the prosecution exercised peremptory challenges to three of the four African-American members of the jury panel. Marion Superior Senior Judge Charles Wiles found that Collier had “made his case” and established purposeful discrimination on the part of the state, but then denied his Batson challenge and motion for mistrial and allowed the case to proceed.

The appellate court found Kribs v. State, 917 N.E.2d 1249 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009), instructive. In that case, the trial court also made contradictory findings in convicting a defendant of entering a controlled area of an airport with a weapon or explosive as a Class A misdemeanor.

“Like the contradictory findings in Kribs, we must conclude that the trial court erred in permitting this matter to go to trial in light of its initial determination that Collier had met the challenge under Batson. Although Batson does not specify the remedy when there has been a showing of purposeful discrimination during voir dire, the trial court’s decision to allow the matter to proceed to trial certainly violated Collier’s right to due process as well as the jurors’ right to serve on the panel,” wrote Judge John Baker.



 

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