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Exclusion of money talk not a reversible error

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A trial court’s error in excluding explicit statements about money is not reversible and does not provide the grounds to overturn a drug conviction.

Marion Turner appealed his conviction for dealing in cocaine, as a Class A felony, arguing he was entrapped by a confidential informant working for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

When Turner testified at trial, he attempted to repeat statements allegedly made by the C.I., but the state objected on hearsay grounds. Turner countered that since the C.I. was acting as an agent of the state, his statements were admissible as statements of a party-opponent, an exception to the hearsay rule addressed by Indiana Evidence Rule 801(d)(2).

The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with Turner. It found the C.I. was acting on behalf of the state and that his statements could properly be considered non-hearsay pursuant to Evidence Rule 801.

The Court of Appeals then considered the consequences of the trial court’s error in sustaining the state’s hearsay objection.

Once the trial court ruled in favor of the state, Turner made an offer of proof that included the C.I. contacting him multiple times wanting cocaine. Turner initially refused but then the informant offered more money.

In Marion Turner v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1302-CR-59, the COA ruled that although the jury was not specifically advised that the C.I. had offered to increase the purchase price, they did hear Turner’s testimony that “the intensity was basically up the ante.”

From this, the COA found, the jury could have “reasonably interpreted” that the C.I. was offering more cash. In addition, Turner had stated his finances were deteriorating and there was no indication that the C.I. ever offered anything of a non-monetary nature to induce the transaction.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the exclusion of the C.I.’s specific statement offering more money was, at most, a harmless error.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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