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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. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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