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High court orders new murder trial

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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.
 

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  1. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

  2. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  3. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  4. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  5. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

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