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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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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