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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. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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