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COA: Man wasn't denied fair trial by judge

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man’s attempted murder conviction, finding the trial judge did not act in a way to deny the defendant a fair trial.

Cedric Tharpe was convicted of Class A felony attempted murder after he shot at a police officer. The officer heard shots fired, saw Tharpe running and asked him to stop. Tharpe looked at the officer for a few seconds, then began firing at him with an AK-47. The officer was not seriously hurt.

Tharpe argued on appeal in Cedric Tharpe v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-1101-CR-24, that Marion Superior Judge Lisa Borges’ behavior and rulings at his trial denied him the right to a fair and unbiased judge. He claimed comments Borges made during voir dire, her sustaining of certain state motions, and her facial expressions – including rolling her eyes – during the trial denied him the right to a fair trial.

“Tharpe has alleged only legally-correct adverse rulings, a single incidence of sarcasm, and inappropriate facial expressions,” wrote Judge Melissa May. “Adverse rulings, without more, do not amount to fundamental error, and the trial court admonished the jury to disregard any facial expressions made by the judge. Tharpe has not demonstrated he was denied a fair trial."

The appellate court also disagreed with Tharpe’s claim that the denial of his motion for a continuance was an abuse of discretion. Tharpe argued the denial further demonstrated the court’s impartiality and prejudiced his defense because the attorney didn’t have enough time to prepare. But by the time Tharpe’s case went to trial, he was on his fourth attorney and the trial had been continued several times. His trial attorney claimed she didn’t receive his case file until Sept. 1, 2010, and the trial was to be held Nov. 22, 2010. Citing previous caselaw, the judges found the attorney had adequate time to prepare for the trial.

The COA also found there was sufficient evidence to support Tharpe’s attempted murder conviction.

 

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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