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COA: Admission of prior bad acts was a harmless error

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found that evidence of a defendant’s prior bad acts was not properly admitted at his trial for theft of gasoline, but affirmed his conviction because the admission was a harmless error.

Nathaniel Baker was convicted of Class D felony theft for stealing 45 gallons of gasoline belonging to David Stephan. He and two other men were with him when the gasoline was stolen. Baker argued when he was charged that he was with his fiancée at the time in question.

In appealing his conviction, Baker argued that the trial court improperly allowed testimony of cohort J.L. that this was not the first time the two had stolen gasoline. He claimed the evidence was introduced only to show he had a propensity to steal gas; the state claimed it was introduced to show Baker’s knowledge, identity and intent.

The COA concluded in Nathaniel Baker v. State of Indiana, 35A05-1210-CR-543, that evidence of Baker’s prior bad acts was not properly admitted under the knowledge, identity or intent exceptions of Evidence Rule 404(b). Baker did not place his intent or knowledge into issue and there’s no evidence this is a “signature” crime of Baker.

But the judges were convinced that there is no substantial likelihood that the questioned evidence contributed to Baker’s conviction in light of the testimony by his co-conspirators about their actions and the jury’s apparent determination that their testimony was more credible than Baker’s fiancée’s testimony, Judge Cale Bradford wrote. As such, the erroneous admission of the prior bad acts evidence was harmless.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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