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COA discusses jury-selection procedures

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Despite being sensitive to a defendant's concerns about having no African-Americans included in his jury pool, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his felony convictions of altering an original identification number and auto theft.

Darmon D. Bond challenged his felony convictions, arguing that the lack of African-Americans in the jury pool violated his Sixth Amendment jury trial rights; the admission of fingerprint test results violated his Sixth Amendment confrontation rights; and there wasn't sufficient evidence to support his conviction.

Police found a man's missing car parked outside Bond's home. The vehicle identification number and license plate didn't match the car. A forensic lab technician dusted for fingerprints and found prints on duct tape and the paper license plate; an examiner identified the prints as those of Bond. The technician and examiner testified at trial, but the person responsible for verifying the first examiner's results didn't appear or testify.

Bond had moved to strike the entire venire because it didn't represent a fair cross-section of the community, but the judge denied the motion, noting how the jury-panel selection process is entirely random.

In Darmon D. Bond v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0910-CR-457, the appellate court determined it was bound by Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357, 364 (1979), and Ewing v. State, 719 N.E.2d 1221, 1226 (Ind. 1999), and that Bond's claim can't prevail under Duren. Bond still asked the appellate court to change the criteria for determining whether the jury-selection procedure actually produces juries that are representative cross-sections of the community.

Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote the court was sensitive to Bond's concerns because jury-selection procedures in Indiana have changed recently in that the lists are now created by the state Judicial Center. Also, in other race- or gender-based constitutional jury challenges, the burden shifts more easily to the state to establish the legitimacy and neutrality of its procedures.

"Given the practical difficulties of showing systematic exclusion of minorities from jury pools in Indiana, we think easing the Duren burden for Hoosiers may be worth considering," she wrote, noting it's a good first step that the selection procedures are available online.

The appellate court also found that the method the examiner claimed to use was followed and her opinion was admissible. And because the absent examiner's results were never referenced at his trial, there is no predicate for a Sixth Amendment confrontation violation. The judges also affirmed sufficient evidence to support Bond's convictions.

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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