ILNews

Court: stipulation can be in preliminary jury instructions

Back to TopE-mailPrint

Even though a defendant waived his argument for appeal that a stipulation may not be placed before a jury via preliminary jury instructions, the Indiana Court of Appeals held the opposite today in a case involving a conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Fabian Morgan was convicted of the Class B felony and sentenced to 15 years. He argued there wasn’t enough evidence to prove he qualified as a serious violent felon. The state had to prove that he had been convicted of an offense listed in Indiana Code Ann. Section 35-47-4-5. Before trial, it appears based on the record that the parties had stipulated to the element of I.C. Section 35-47-4-5 that Morgan was previously convicted of a felony at the time he possessed the gun in the instant case, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander.

The stipulation wasn’t introduced at trial and not included in the materials submitted in conjunction with the appeal, so Morgan claimed there was insufficient evidence to prove he was a serious violent felon. He waived this argument by not objecting to the jury instructions.

In Fabian Morgan v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-1001-CR-43, the appellate court couldn’t find any authority for Morgan’s argument that a stipulation can’t be placed before a jury through preliminary jury instructions. The judges relied on Hardister v. State, 849 N.E.2d 563 (Ind. 2006), in which the Indiana Supreme Court ruled otherwise, to conclude that a stipulation may be presented before a jury in the form of a preliminary instruction. It may be challenged by a defendant who preserves the issue for appellate review, noted Judge Friedlander.

The judges also found the trial court didn’t commit fundamental error when it admonished the jury to disregard remarks made by Morgan’s attorney during final arguments that the court characterized as “misleading” and “not the evidence presented.” Morgan didn’t object to any of the trial court’s comments, and couldn’t show fundamental error occurred. The record shows the attorney did misstate the evidence.

The judges also upheld the 15-year sentence.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

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. 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.

ADVERTISEMENT