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Court: stipulation can be in preliminary jury instructions

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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.
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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