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Man did not validly waive right to jury trial

August 15, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Vanderburgh County man’s misdemeanor convictions of battery and public intoxication, finding he did not waive his right to a jury trial.

At a November 2011 hearing, Vanderburgh Magistrate Judge Sheila Corcoran advised Reko Levels that he had a right to a trial by court or by jury. Levels told the magistrate later in the hearing he wanted a jury trial “ten days ahead of time.”

A bench trial was conducted, at which Levels was convicted of the Class B misdemeanors battery and public intoxication.

The trial court failed to adequately advise Levels of the consequences of failing to demand a jury trial, Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote. The court didn’t mention the necessity of making such a request no later than 10 days before the scheduled trial date and never disclosed that the failure to make the request would waive Levels’ right to a jury trial. There’s also no indication that Levels knew his demand had to be in writing.

The COA rejected the state’s argument that the advisement was unnecessary because Levels had mentioned he wanted a jury trial 10 days ahead of time. Levels’ reference doesn’t reveal that he knew the request had to be in writing or even what the 10 days had to be ahead of, Bailey wrote in a footnote.

 

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