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COA: Man didn't personally waive right to jury

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Because the trial court erred in finding a defendant waived his right to have a jury hear the enhancement aspects of his drunk-driving case, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his elevated conviction.

In Teddy L. Garcia v. State of Indiana, No. 57A03-0902-CR-75, Teddy Garcia claimed because he didn't personally waive the right to have a jury determine whether he had the requisite previous conviction essential to elevate his operating while intoxicated offense to a Class D felony and to have them determine whether he was an habitual offender, his conviction should be overturned.

Garcia was found guilty of Class A misdemeanor OWI by a jury. Instead of having the jury decide whether he had a previous conviction that could elevate the offense and if he was a habitual offender, Garcia's attorney told the judge they saw no reason to have the jury go through that process. The trial judge enhanced the conviction to a Class D felony and found him to be a habitual substance offender.

Garcia asked the judge if he could explain to the jury about his situation on his past counts of operating while intoxicated and possession of marijuana, which the judge said he could but that the jury would be making its decision only based on his prior convictions, not the circumstances around those convictions.

Based on the exchange between Garcia, his attorney, and the judge, it's apparent he didn't acquiesce in his attorney's representation of a waiver, wrote Senior Judge Patrick Sullivan. Indiana Supreme Court precedent in Kellems v. State, 849 N.E.2d 1110 (Ind. 2008), held that a wavier requires assent to a bench trial by a defendant personally and the record must reflect that wavier was direct and not implied. Also, it held counsel can't waive a client's right to a jury trial.

The appellate court affirmed his Class A misdemeanor OWI conviction, but reversed the Class D felony enhancement and enhancement for being a habitual substance offender. It remanded the issue for further proceedings.

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  1. 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."

  2. Payday loans take advantage of people in many ways. It's great to hear that the courts are using some of their sins to pay money back to the community. Hopefully this will help change the culture of many loan companies, and make lending a much safer endeavor for those in need. http://lawsuitlendingnow.com/lawsuit-loans-post-settlement.html

  3. A traditional parade of attorneys? Really Evansville? Y'all need to get out more. When is the traditional parade of notaries? Nurses? Sanitation workers? Pole dancers? I gotta wonder, do throngs of admiring citizens gather to laud these marching servants of the constitution? "Show us your billing records!!!" Hoping some video gets posted. Ours is not a narcissistic profession by any chance, is it? Nah .....

  4. My previous comment not an aside at court. I agree with smith. Good call. Just thought posting here a bit on the if it bleeds it leads side. Most attorneys need to think of last lines of story above.

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