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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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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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