ILNews

Court orders re-trial after jury instruction error

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ordered a re-trial for a man convicted of attempted murder after ruling today the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury on accomplice liability.

In Robert Tiller v. State of Indiana, No. 45A03-0802-CR-78, Robert Tiller was convicted of attempted murder, confinement, and escape after he and three others bound Richard Cannon, put him in the trunk of a car, and Louis James shot Cannon once in the face after opening the trunk.

Although he didn't object to the jury instructions on attempted murder and accomplice liability for attempted murder at trial, Tiller argued on appeal that the instructions constituted fundamental error. The trial court instruction correctly stated the law as it generally pertained to accomplice liability, but the instruction didn't adequately inform the jury that the specific intent requirement for attempted murder also applied to accomplice liability for attempted murder, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

"We must therefore conclude, as did our Supreme Court in Hopkins, that the trial court's instruction on accomplice liability constituted fundamental error in that it failed to adequately instruct the jury that it was required to find that Tiller possessed the specific intent to kill Cannon when he aided, supported, helped, or assisted his accomplices commit the crime of attempted murder," wrote the judge.

There was sufficient evidence to support Tiller's conviction of attempted murder, so the appellate court remanded for a re-trial on the charge of attempted murder.

The Court of Appeals also found the state made a good faith effort and employed sufficient measures to find Cannon and secure his attendance at trial, so Tiller's Sixth Amendment right to confrontation wasn't violated when Cannon's disposition was read into evidence after he failed to appear to testify at Tiller's trial.

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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