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Father’s testimony at molestation trial not fundamental error

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a Lake County man’s conviction of Class C felony child molesting, rejecting the defendant’s claims that some of the victim’s father’s testimony at trial resulted in fundamental error.

In Terrence T. Walker v. State of Indiana, 45A04-1208-CR-441, Terrence Walker raised three issues on appeal: the victim’s father made several inadmissible statements concerning Walker’s guilt, that the trial court erred in not instructing the jury on Class D felony sexual battery as a lesser-included offense, and that the trial court abused its discretion in replacing the only African-American juror after he was late for court.

Walker was on trial on charges of Class C felony child molesting involving fondling or touching and Class A felony child molesting involving sexual intercourse. He was accused of forcing his stepdaughters’ friend A.B. into the back of his car, where he got on top of her, pulled down her leggings and removed her underwear. The jury only found him guilty of the Class C felony charge.

Walker claimed that portions of A.B.’s father’s testimony on direct examination and cross-examination should be excluded, but since he did not object at trial, he argued on appeal that the statements made resulted in fundamental error. The trial judge told the jury to disregard an outburst the father had after direct examination.

The Court of Appeals found only one portion of the father’s testimony violated Ind. Evidence Rule 704(b), when a comment he made voluntarily implied that Walker was guilty. But this testimony did not deprive him of a fair trial because of other evidence. The judges ruled that some of the comments were invited error because they were in response to defense counsel questioning, and that the admonishment to the jury cured any error arising from the father’s initial outburst.

There was no fundamental error in not instructing the jury on Class D felony sexual battery because that offense is not an inherently nor a factually included offense of Class C felony child molesting as charged.

The judges also found no abuse of discretion in removing Juror 271, the only African-American on the panel, after he was two hours late for court. Walker doesn’t allege the juror was replaced based on racial discrimination nor present any facts to suggest that, but wants the COA to assume prejudice. The trial court attempted to reach the juror, but he did not respond to phone calls and they did not know if or when he would appear, so the trial court had reasons to replace him on the jury, the court ruled.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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