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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. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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