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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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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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