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Court clarifies continuing objection procedure

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If a trial court grants a continuing objection, counsel doesn't have to object each time the class of evidence is subsequently offered, but if the trial court doesn't specifically grant the right to a continuing objection, counsel must object to the evidence as it is offered in order to preserve the issue on appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

The appellate court used its opinion in Brandi Hayworth v. State of Indiana, No. 07A01-0804-CR-197, to clarify that the proper procedure when a continuing objection is granted is for counsel to remain silent during the subsequent admission of that class of evidence. In the instant case, Brandi Hayworth's attorney attempted to lodge a continuing objection, which wasn't granted. Subsequently, counsel would object to some evidence as either a continuing objection or offer no objection.

Hayworth was on trial for felony dealing in methamphetamine, felony possession of methamphetamine, and possession of anhydrous ammonia or ammonia solution with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine while in possession of a firearm. Brown County Deputy Sheriff Scott Southerland prepared an affidavit for a search warrant of her home based on information from an unidentified informant; at trial, Southerland testified the informant hadn't actually seen any methamphetamine on the property, hadn't seen Hayworth manufacture the drug on the property or use the drug. The trial court denied Hayworth's motion to suppress; she was found guilty of felony dealing and possession of methamphetamine.

The Court of Appeals found Hayworth waived the issue that the trial court erred by admitting evidence found at her home during the execution of the search warrant. Because the trial court didn't grant her a continuing objection, she had to object to each and every piece of evidence in order to preserve her challenge on appeal; instead, for unknown reasons, Hayworth said "no objection" to some evidence, was silent about the admission of other evidence, or said "continuing objection." By saying "no objection" to the majority of evidence against her, she waived her right to appeal that evidence, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

However, the appellate court examined the admission of evidence for fundamental error. The trial court found the totality of the circumstances corroborated the informant's statements, but the Court of Appeals disagreed. The information affirmed in the search warrant was information the general public could gather by passing by the home and there was no evidence the informant had given the police correct information in the past, wrote the judge. Southerland's testimony at trial said the informant hadn't actually seen any drug activity, making his affidavit misleading. The hearsay in this case fails to satisfy the Fourth Amendment or Indiana Code Section 35-33-5-2, wrote Judge Vaidik, as there was no probable cause to support the search warrant.

The good faith exception also doesn't apply in the case because the magistrate was misled by the information in the affidavit. Southerland's admissions at the suppression hearing amount to deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct and the error of admitting the evidence was so prejudicial to Hayworth's rights that a fair trial was impossible, wrote Judge Vaidik. The appellate court reversed her convictions and remanded the case.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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