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Man tried twice for same offense, but relief denial affirmed

August 28, 2013

A divided Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a man convicted of rape on retrial was unconstitutionally prosecuted twice for the same offense, but the court upheld denial of post-conviction relief.

The court affirmed denial of post-conviction relief from a Class B felony rape conviction in Juan M. Garrett v. State of Indiana, 49S04-1207-PC-431, which also had been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Garrett’s conviction in a bench trial followed a jury trial in which he was cleared of one rape count and the jury hung on a second. Garrett was accused of twice raping the same woman who claimed he and two other men held her against her will and sexually assaulted her.

“We hold that the ‘actual evidence’ test announced in Richardson v. State, 717 N.E.2d 32 (Ind. 1999) is applicable to cases in which there has been an acquittal on one charge and retrial on another charge after a hung jury. We conclude however that the post-conviction court properly denied the petitioner’s claim that counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to pursue this issue at trial or on direct appeal,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote for the majority, joined by Justices Steven David, Loretta Rush and Chief Justice Brent Dickson.

“We acknowledge that in a different factual context this modified test may prove challenging in its application. But here the facts are fairly straightforward. In essence on retrial the State presented the same evidence of Rape A — the first-in-time rape — on which the State relied in the first trial and upon which the jury found Garrett not guilty. And given the relative paucity of evidence on retrial concerning Rape B — the second-in-time rape — we conclude there is reasonable possibility that the evidentiary facts used by the jury in the first trial to establish the essential elements of Rape, for which Garrett was acquitted, may also have been used on retrial to establish all of the essential elements of Rape for which Garrett was convicted,” Rucker wrote.

“We conclude therefore that Garrett was twice prosecuted for the same offense in violation of article 1, section 14 of the Indiana Constitution.”

Justice Mark Massa concluded in the result but argued Garrett was not a victim of double jeopardy.

“The record is clear that, in this second trial, the trial court, prosecution, and defense all understood that the two separate rapes were charged in chronological order and that Garrett was being retried for the alleged ‘Rape B’ only,” Massa wrote. “This does not mean that the victim had to confine her testimony in the second trial solely to Rape B, omitting all details of what transpired earlier in the evening; our jurisprudence does not require such a stilted, redacted and devoid-of-context presentation. (How, for instance, could she testify she was raped ‘again’ without mentioning the first rape?)

“We trust trial judges to separate wheat from chaff, permitting them, for instance, to render a verdict even after being exposed to inadmissible evidence that would irreparably taint a lay jury,” Massa wrote. … “I am confident that the experienced trial judge in this case performed just such a threshing here.”

But the majority noted Richardson requires only the reasonable probability that the facts a trial judge relied on to convict were the same ones the jury relied on in the previous trial.

“If we were to accept the dissent’s position, then that would mean there could never be a Richardson violation where the second trial after an acquittal is before the bench rather than a jury. In our view this goes beyond ‘judicial temperance’ and borders on judicial infallibility,” Rucker wrote for the majority.

“It is ‘reasonab[ly] possible’ that even an experienced trial judge can make a mistake. That is not to say that a mistake was in fact made in this case; but there is a reasonable possibility that is so. This is all Richardson requires,” the majority held.


 
 

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