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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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  3. 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.

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