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COA splits on reversing convictions for Batson violation

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A divided Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a defendant’s convictions, including attempted battery with a deadly weapon, finding the state’s explanations for striking the only African-American from the jury were pretextual and purposeful discrimination.

In Jerrme Cartwright v. State of Indiana, No. 82A01-1005-CR-214, Jerrme Cartwright appealed his convictions of two counts of attempted battery with a deadly weapon as Class C felonies, two counts of attempted aggravated battery as Class B felonies, one count of possession of a handgun by a serious violent felon as a Class B felony, and his 26-year aggregate sentence.

The charges stem from a fight at an American Legion in Evansville involving Cartwright. Tiffany Boyd, her husband, Jamar Boyd, Michael Lockridge, Marcus Lockridge, Shaudarekkia Beattie, and her sister, Linda Beattie left after the altercation in which Jamar was injured. They all went to Linda’s home because it was nearby. While they were outside of the home, a crowd began to form. They saw Jerrme Cartwright walking toward them with a gun and he started shooting at the crowd and in the air. Police arrived; Cartwright fled and was later arrested.

In his appeal, Cartwright challenges the removal of the only African-American from the jury. The appellate court found he made a prima facie showing under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), that the peremptory challenge was exercised on the basis of race. The prosecutor offered several race-neutral explanations for removing the juror, including health reasons and his admittance to not being a good listener. Judges James Kirsch and Paul Mathias decided to reverse Cartwright’s convictions because based on the record, they couldn’t determine which one of the state’s proffered explanations the trial court relied on to deny the Batson challenge.

“The State failed to inquire into such reasons or to develop anything beyond the most superficial of records regarding its reasons. We conclude that the State’s proffered explanations for striking the only African-American juror from the jury panel were pretextual and the result of purposeful discrimination,” wrote Judge Kirsch.  

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, believing the appellate court should give more deference to the trial court’s decision because the state of mind of a juror, evaluation of demeanor, and credibility lies within a trial court’s province.

She wrote that the state’s justifications for striking the African-American juror were all supported by the record and that several other jurors were also stricken for similar reasons.

The majority ordered Cartwright be retried on the charges, including the attempted battery with a deadly weapon charges, which he claimed there was insufficient evidence to support.

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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