ILNews

Court orders new trial on damages owed to wrongfully convicted man

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Finding a District judge improperly limited critical evidence relating to an Elkart man’s innocence during his trial for damages following his wrongful conviction, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new damages trial be held.

Christopher Parish was arrested when he was 20 years old in 1996 by Elkhart police and charged with attempted murder and armed robbery. He maintained his innocence throughout and was convicted based mainly on eyewitness testimony. Eight years after his conviction, an appeals court overturned it and ordered a new trial. He was 30 when he was released from prison. The government, after Parish rejected a plea deal to serve no additional jail time, dismissed the case.

Parish then sued the city of Elkhart and detective Steve Rezutko, who was lead investigator of the shooting, seeking damages for his wrongful conviction based on a violation of the Due Process Clause. He prevailed on the action and was awarded about $80,000 in total damages for the eight years he was wrongly imprisoned.

Parish sought a new trial, arguing the damages award was too low. Average jury awards for wrongful convictions are around $950,000 for every year of wrongful imprisonment. He also claimed the trial court erred in improperly limiting the evidence that he could introduce at trial which could show his innocence.

“A look at the evidence allowed and that withheld from the jury on the question of responsibility for the crime reveals that the deck was effectively stacked against Parish,” Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner wrote in Christopher Parish v. City of Elkhart, Indiana, et al., 11-1669. “Significant testimony as to Parish’s guilt of the crime, and particularly the testimony of eyewitnesses identifying him, was admitted whereas testimony as to his innocence, including statements by those same eyewitnesses expressing their doubts as to that identification, was excluded. The result was that the jury was deprived of significant probative evidence as to the issue of Parish’s guilt or innocence.”

The 7th Circuit affirmed the jury’s determination of liability but vacated the damages awarded. It ordered a new trial on damages and Circuit Rule 36 will apply on remand. Costs on appeal are to be taxed against the city and Rezutko.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

ADVERTISEMENT