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Booking card exception to hearsay rule

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A booking card created by law enforcement in the course of a ministerial, nonevaluative booking process is not subject to the police reports exclusion under Indiana Evidence Rule 803(8), the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.

In Stacey Fowler v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0910-CR-1037, Stacey Fowler argued that her battery victim’s booking card from a prior, unrelated arrest wasn’t admissible under the public records exception to the hearsay rule, and the introduction violated her constitutional confrontation rights. Fowler was arrested and convicted of Class B misdemeanor battery against her husband, Ricky Fowler.

Police came to the Fowlers’ home after Ricky called the police. Ricky identified himself once police arrived and said Stacey had taken his wallet. While there, Stacey pushed Ricky with both hands and he was knocked off balance. Stacey was arrested for battery, and an officer got Ricky’s wallet from Stacey’s truck and found Ricky’s photo ID. At trial, the state introduced certified “Booking information” from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department with a mugshot of Ricky with his name, date of birth, and physical description to help identify the victim because he didn’t attend the trial. One of the arresting officers testified that the person in the photo was Ricky.

The Court of Appeals judges had to look to other jurisdictions to aid in their decision that the booking would fall under the public records exception. The public records exception excludes investigative police reports when offered against the accused in criminal trials, but it does not bar admission of police records pertaining to “routine, ministerial, objective nonevaluative matters made in non-adversarial settings.”

Other courts have held the public records exception permits admission of police records created in connection with routine booking procedures, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. The booking constituted hearsay evidence because it was offered to prove that the man in the mugshot was Ricky.

“The booking card was created by law enforcement, but the biographical information on the printout was obtained and recorded in the course of a ministerial, nonevaluative booking process,” she wrote. “In line with the foregoing, we find that the exhibit fell within the ambit of Evidence Rule 803(8) and was not subject to the police reports exclusion.”

The judges also held that the booking information printout wasn’t testimonial evidence under Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004). It recited biographical and physical identification information obtained only for custodial purposes and wasn’t created to prove some fact at trial.

The Court of Appeals found the identification furnished by the booking card was cumulative but the alleged error was harmless. They also found any alleged error in the exclusion of Stacey’s testimony on out-of-court statements made by the arresting officers at the Fowlers’ home to be waived.  
 

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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