High court orders new murder trial

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court overturned a Fulton County man’s murder sentence because a detective continued with the interview even after the man invoked his right to counsel several times.

James Carr got into an argument with his friend and shot him in the face after his friend provoked him several times to do it. His friend died. Afterward, Carr drove to a bar and admitted to the bartender he killed the friend.

Carr claimed that he unequivocally and repeatedly invoked his right to counsel, so his statements made about the murder to the detective shouldn’t have been admitted into evidence. The state argued Carr’s requests for an attorney were ambiguous and if not, that any resulting error was harmless.

In James A. Carr v. State of Indiana, No. 25S04-1004-CR-219, the justices agreed with Carr, pointing out several times in the transcript of the police interview in which Carr said he wanted to speak to an attorney or have an attorney with him during questioning. The detective acknowledged that was his right, but continued on with the interview by steering the conversation back to the murder. They also found Carr’s answers to the detective’s questions weren’t a valid waiver of his right to counsel.

When Carr invoked his right to counsel, the detective should have ended the questioning immediately until his attorney was present.

“Instead, the detective's ongoing conversation initiated further custodial interrogation, and the defendant's subsequent disclosures were not a product of his own initiation of communication,” wrote Justice Brent Dickson.

In addition, the admittance of these statements into evidence was not a harmless error as they contained considerable details regarding Carr’s state of mind during the killing, which are details that weren’t provided by any other evidence. They reversed and remanded for a new trial.

The high court also addressed Carr’s appeal of his denial of motion for discharge for delay under Indiana Criminal Rule 4. He argued two of his continuance requests should have been properly attributed to the state.

“It has not been uncommon for lawyers and courts to address Rule 4 claims in part by considering whether delay should be 'chargeable to the State,' but the role of the State is an irrelevant consideration in the analysis,” wrote Justice Dickson. “The Rule does not call for any attribution of delay to the State but only for delay attributable to the defendant or insufficient time due to court congestion or emergency. Employing the rhetoric of 'delay chargeable to the State' should be avoided.”

In Carr’s case, both delays he argued were attributable to the state were actually attributable to him, so the trial court didn’t err in attributing the delays to him.


Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.