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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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  3. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  4. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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