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Clothing labels and security tags not considered hearsay evidence

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that clothing from the store H & M that bore the company name and security tags attached to the clothing could be admitted at a woman’s trial for theft from the store on Black Friday.

Loss-prevention officer Kyle Hadley saw Dekuita Steen take clothing from H & M, place them on top of an empty stroller, then stuff the clothing into bags under the stroller. He watched her leave the store without paying, which activated the store’s security system. Hadley brought Steen back into the store, but she denied stealing. He removed the clothing from the bags and recognized it as the same clothing he saw Steen place in the bags. When Hadley was called to the front of the store to help with another matter, Steen fled down a fire escape and was arrested by police four days later.

In Dekuita Steen v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1211-CR-877, Steen argued that the trial court erred in admitting Hadley’s testimony on the security tags and store labels into evidence at her trial because they are hearsay.

“While the security tags and store labels are not in evidence, we assume based on the parties’ briefs that the security tags and the store labels contained the writing ‘H & M,’” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote. “This writing, taken by itself, is not capable of being true or not true. Since it is not capable of being true or not true, the clothing labels could not have been admitted for the truth of the matter asserted. Rather, they were admitted as circumstantial evidence showing that because the tags were attached to the clothing, it made it more likely than not that the clothing belonged to H & M. Since the security tags and store labels inside the clothing were not out-of-court assertions admitted for the truth of the matter asserted, they did not constitute hearsay evidence.”

The judges held that Hadley simply testified about what he observed based on his personal knowledge of the matter, so his testimony was not hearsay. There is sufficient evidence to show Steen exerted unauthorized control over the clothes, which supports her Class D felony conviction.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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