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COA finds no error in Class A felony attempted robbery conviction

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After determining it had jurisdiction over a defendant’s appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction of Class A felony attempted robbery instead of a lesser-included offense.

In James Denning v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1208-CR-394, the appellate court was first tasked with deciding whether it had jurisdiction to consider James Denning’s appeal because he filed his notice of appeal before the trial court decided the issue of restitution. Denning was charged with and convicted of Class A felony attempted robbery for shooting Derek Schaffer while the two went to look at a place Schaffer wanted to rent. The state sought restitution, but was awaiting medical bills from Schaffer. The trial court said it would leave restitution open, but the final written sentencing order did not mention restitution.

“We have jurisdiction, as the trial court found Denning guilty and entered a judgment of conviction. The trial court, despite its oral statement it would ‘leave restitution open,’ entered a final sentencing order that did not impose restitution. Under those circumstances, we will not deprive Denning of his day in court based solely on a statement made during a hearing,” Judge Melissa May wrote.

The judges rejected Denning’s claim that there was insufficient evidence to convict him because Shaffer’s testimony was incredibly dubious.

“We decline to hold a witness’ statements are necessarily ‘incredibly dubious’ just because the witness is ‘evasive,’ ‘not forthcoming,’ or ‘reluctant’ to reveal information, especially where, as here, the challenged information has no apparent relevance to the elements of the offense with which the defendant was charged. Nor will we hold a statement is, regardless of its content, ‘incredibly dubious’ just because it is ‘squirrely,’” May said, referring to the trial court’s characterization of Schaffer’s version of the events as “squirrely and evasive.”

The COA also upheld the Class A felony conviction instead of a lesser Class C felony offense. Denning had a bench trial and “we presume that a trial court knows the law in Indiana,” May said. The state chose to charge him with Class A felony attempted robbery, and the state provided ample evidence to support that conviction.

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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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