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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. Bob Leonard killed two people named Jennifer and Dion Longworth. There were no Smiths involved.

  2. Being on this journey from the beginning has convinced me the justice system really doesn't care about the welfare of the child. The trial court judge knew the child belonged with the mother. The father having total disregard for the rules of the court. Not only did this cost the mother and child valuable time together but thousands in legal fees. When the child was with the father the mother paid her child support. When the child was finally with the right parent somehow the father got away without having to pay one penny of child support. He had to be in control. Since he withheld all information regarding the child's welfare he put her in harms way. Mother took the child to the doctor when she got sick and was totally embarrassed she knew nothing regarding the medical information especially the allergies, The mother texted the father (from the doctors office) and he replied call his attorney. To me this doesn't seem like a concerned father. Seeing the child upset when she had to go back to the father. What upset me the most was finding out the child sleeps with him. Sometimes in the nude. Maybe I don't understand all the rules of the law but I thought this was also morally wrong. A concerned parent would allow the child to finish the school year. Say goodbye to her friends. It saddens me to know the child will not have contact with the sisters, aunts, uncles and the 87 year old grandfather. He didn't allow it before. Only the mother is allowed to talk to the child. I don't think now will be any different. I hope the decision the courts made would've been the same one if this was a member of their family. Someday this child will end up in therapy if allowed to remain with the father.

  3. Ok attorney Straw ... if that be a good idea ... And I am not saying it is ... but if it were ... would that be ripe prior to her suffering an embarrassing remand from the Seventh? Seems more than a tad premature here soldier. One putting on the armor should not boast liked one taking it off.

  4. The judge thinks that she is so cute to deny jurisdiction, but without jurisdiction, she loses her immunity. She did not give me any due process hearing or any discovery, like the Middlesex case provided for that lawyer. Because she has refused to protect me and she has no immunity because she rejected jurisdiction, I am now suing her in her district.

  5. Sam Bradbury was never a resident of Lafayette he lived in rural Tippecanoe County, Thats an error.

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