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. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  2. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

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