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COA upholds trial court’s actions and sentence during drug trial

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A defendant who contended the trial court abused its discretion and imposed an inappropriately harsh sentence had his drug conviction upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

John Cherry was stopped May 24, 2011, as part of a drug sting in Morgan County. Cherry told a detective at the scene that he was supplying heroin to Austin Quick who was with Cherry that night. Police also recovered a syringe from Cherry’s pants pocket.

The state charged Cherry with two counts of Class B felony aiding, inducing or causing dealing in heroin and Class D felony unlawful possession of a syringe.

During the trial, the state’s first witness testified that balloons swallowed by Quick during the drug bust contained heroin, and a laboratory report was entered into evidence. However, the report was later withdrawn after the trial court ruled that the state had failed to establish a sufficient chain of custody for the heroin. Cherry moved for a mistrial and requested an admonition. The trial court admonished the jury not to consider any evidence from the witness or the lab report.

Cherry was found guilty and sentenced to an aggregated sentence of 10 years for aiding, inducing or causing dealing in heroin, with two years suspended and four years of probation.  

Cherry said that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting certain evidence and in denying his mistrial motion. He also claimed the state failed to produce sufficient evidence to sustain his convictions and his sentence was inappropriately harsh.

The Court of Appeals found the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the videotape of Cherry’s statement made to a detective nor in admitting syringes found near the scene. In addition, the Court ruled the trial court did adequately admonish the jury and that Cherry failed to establish the trial court abused its discretion in denying his mistrial motion.

Also, the Court found the state produced sufficient evidence to sustain Cherry’s Class B felony convictions. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented on the grounds that the evidence was insufficient to prove the substance in the balloons Quick swallowed was heroin.

Finally the Court upheld Cherry’s sentence, noting his history of buying and delivering heroin, his history of substance abuse, and his making “only cursory attempts at rehabilitation.”

 

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  3. 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.

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