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COA: Judge’s late recusal not reversible error

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An Adams Circuit Court judge who learned that he had previously represented a defendant on trial in his courtroom acted appropriately when he recused himself but denied a mistrial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

The matter came before the appellate court in David Mathews v. State of Indiana, 01A02-1203-CR-207. Mathews claimed that judge Adam Miller should have declared a mistrial when Mathews notified the judge that he had represented him in a prior criminal case.

Mathews told the judge about the prior representation after a jury trial in which Mathews was convicted of Class D felony intimidation and Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, but before arguments on whether Mathews would be ruled a habitual offender.

Upon notification, Miller recused himself and said in court, “My representation of you on an underlying offense that has never been presented to the jury as of yet has no impact on the first phase of this trial so I will deny the request for mistrial.”

“Given that Judge Miller did not serve as a lawyer in the matter in controversy, i.e., the matter involving the public intoxication or intimidation charges, we cannot say that Rule 2.11(A)(6) required recusal prior to the habitual offender phase of the trial or that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Mathews’s request for a mistrial,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the unanimous panel.

Judge Rudolph Pyle III concurred with a separate opinion in which he wrote, “The language and examples provided with the rule presuppose that a judge has knowledge of an event that calls into question his or her ability to be fair and impartial.

“In this case, the record reveals that neither the judge, prosecutor, defense counsel, nor Mathews himself was aware of the judge’s prior representation of Mathews until after the completion of the first phase of the trial. At that point, the judge correctly disqualified himself from the case. Therefore, because there was no knowledge during the trial, there was no duty to disqualify.”


 

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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