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Court orders new trial in methamphetamine case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a new trial for a woman convicted of felony methamphetamine dealing, finding that the Hendricks Superior judge should have instructed the jury on a lesser-included offense of methamphetamine possession.

In Angela C. Garrett v. State of Indiana, No. 32A05-1105-CR-239, the appellate court examined a case involving a traffic stop in which Angela Garrett was a passenger. The driver told police he’d smoked marijuana that day and gave officers the remains of several joints. When police searched Garrett, they found two bundles of cash totaling $4,500, and in her purse they discovered a gun, two scales, small plastic baggies and material to cut methamphetamine and increase the volume. She also had a small pouch with about 26 grams of meth in three baggies, as well as a pipe, scale, and more small baggies. Another gun was found in the trunk.

Garrett first told police the drugs and weapons were hers, but later she said that the driver was the dealer, not her, and that he’d been physically abusive and had threatened to hurt her and her children if she didn’t tell police the drugs and weapons were hers.

Although Garrett asked at trial that the jury be instructed on the lesser-included offense of possession, the judge declined to instruct the jury and she was subsequently found guilty of Class A felony dealing methamphetamine and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals declined to accept the state’s position that Garrett had waived her challenge to the court’s decision not to instruct the jury because she hadn’t submitted a written instruction for the trial court to review.

A serious evidentiary dispute existed about whether Garrett had intent to deal methamphetamine, the appellate court ruled. Citing its own caselaw from 1996, the Court of Appeals determined that the jury should have had the option to hear about that lesser-included offense – even if it wasn’t required to believe Garrett.

The case is remanded for a new trial.

 

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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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