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Divided COA: Statement on record unneeded to waive jury trial

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The majority of a Court of Appeals panel affirmed a Hendricks County man’s conviction in a bench trial of misdemeanor intimidation, but a dissenting COA judge wrote the defendant was improperly denied a jury trial and his conviction should be tossed.

Matthew Fiandt was convicted of two counts of Class A misdemeanor intimidation and one count of Class B misdemeanor harassment before Hendricks Superior Judge Mary L. Comer. The conviction was affirmed in Matthew Fiandt v. State of Indiana, 32A01-1211-CR-496.

In this case, Fiandt had requested and was granted a jury trial on July 31, 2012, within the 10-day limit for such a request since a bench trial had been continued to Aug. 14. But Fiandt’s original trial date had been scheduled for June 12, and the majority wrote that Fiandt had not made a request for a jury trial within 10 days of that date.

“Fiandt argues that he affirmatively demanded his right to be tried by a jury when he submitted his request for jury trial on July 31, 2012, prior to his bench trial scheduled for August 14, 2012. However, in order to assert the right to a jury trial in accordance with Criminal Rule 22, Fiandt was required to file his request ten days prior to his first scheduled trial date, which was June 12, 2012,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in a majority opinion joined by Judge Mark Bailey.

“By that time, Fiandt had already waived his right to a jury trial by operation of law, no later than June 2, 2012. Fiandt did not have to make a personal, express, on-the-record statement that he was knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waiving his right to a jury trial,” the majority held.

Fiandt’s second appointed attorney filed a motion for a bench trial on Sept. 20, 2012, and dissenting judge Edward Najam noted that Fiandt didn’t sign the request and there was no evidence in the record that he knowingly waived his right to jury trial. “This was not a constitutionally effective waiver,” wrote Najam, who would reverse the convictions and remand for a jury trial.

“The majority’s reasoning does not take into account how Criminal Rule 22 and the Sixth Amendment work together. Our Criminal Rules cannot supersede constitutional principles or diminish a defendant’s fundamental rights,” Najam wrote, noting that the level of misdemeanor for which Fiandt was charged requires a reflection in the record that the defendant waived his right.

“In response to Fiandt’s clear showing of the Superior Court’s reversible error, the State responds by focusing not on the Superior Court’s decision but on whether Fiandt timely filed his jury trial request,” Najam wrote. “However, the State does not — presumably because it cannot — support its argument with citations to the record” showing Fiandt waived his right. “It is the State’s burden to support its argument with citations to the record, not Fiandt’s burden to disprove the State’s argument.”


 

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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