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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. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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