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COA: Hearsay evidence properly admitted

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the admission of hearsay evidence of a woman’s testimony to an officer that her boyfriend hit her because the evidence was admissible under the excited utterance exception.

In Donte L. Boatner v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-1002-CR-68, Donte Boatner challenged the trial court admittance of his girlfriend’s testimony to police as hearsay evidence and claimed that evidence violated his confrontation rights. His girlfriend, A.J., did not testify at his trial where he was convicted of Class A misdemeanor domestic battery.

A.J. ran toward Marion County Community Corrections Deputy Ross Earles as he was sitting in an unmarked car at a work-release center. A.J., who was not wearing any shoes and appeared disoriented and crying, told Earles she needed help and that Boatner had pushed her down and hit her on her face. She then told him where Boatner could be found.

Boatner objected to Earles’ testimony of A.J.’s statements to him being admitted at trial, which the trial court overruled. The testimony was properly admitted under the “excited utterance” exception in Indiana Evidence Rule 803(2). Even though the emergency situation had passed by the time A.J. approached Earles, A.J. was still clearly under the stress of the excitement caused by the battery when she spoke to the deputy.

The judges also rejected his argument that the admission of A.J.’s statement violated his right to confront witnesses under the Sixth Amendment. Because he didn’t object to Earles’ testimony based on Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 68 (2004), or the Sixth Amendment, his confrontation claim was waived on appeal.
 
Even if the issue had been properly preserved, it wouldn’t prevail because Crawford only applies to testimonial hearsay, wrote Judge Paul Mathias. Statements are nontestimonial when made in the course of police interrogation under circumstances objectively indicating that the primary purpose of the interrogation is to help police meet an ongoing emergency, he continued.

“Here, there is no indication that Deputy Earles’ primary purpose in speaking with A.J. was to establish or prove past events potentially relevant to later prosecution. To the contrary, Deputy Earles was sitting in his car when A.J. quickly approached him and, before he could even ask a question, told him that Boatner had pushed her down and hit her in the face,” he wrote.
 

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  2. 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.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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