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High court vacates transfer

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The Indiana Supreme Court vacated transfer yesterday in a case in which a defendant appealed his convictions of voluntary manslaughter, carrying a handgun without a license, and finding that he was a habitual offender.

The high court voted 3-2 to vacate transfer to Scottie Adams v. State, No. 71S03-0809-CR-514, with Justice Theodore Boehm writing a five-page dissent with which Justice Frank Sullivan concurred.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in a July 25, 2008, opinion that Adams failed to demonstrate that witness Christopher White's refusal to testify had a prejudicial impact on the jury to the extent that a mistrial was warranted. White spontaneously said while on the stand that he was afraid to testify because he was scared for his family and his life. White had been jumped while he was in jail over the case, but didn't show any evidence that Adams was behind it. The trial court told the jury not to consider any statements made by White about his not wanting to testify.

On appeal, Adams also argued the trial court erred in instructing the jury on the offense of voluntary manslaughter when he was originally charged with murder and that since the state didn't amend the information to include the voluntary manslaughter charge, the instructions shouldn't have been given. The Court of Appeals found no authority suggesting a lesser-included offense instruction can't be given in instances where the defendant decides not to present any evidence at trial.

The Supreme Court granted transfer Sept. 23, 2008, and held arguments Dec. 11, 2008.

Justice Boehm's dissent on the denial of transfer hinges on an important issue in the case that needs to be addressed - whether the trial court's admonition satisfactorily addressed the prejudicial impact of the witness' testimony that Adams had threatened him, or whether Adams was entitled to a mistrial.

In the instant case, the trial court asked the jury to ignore the witness' statements but didn't explain why, which left jurors to draw the inference that Adams was behind the threats, wrote Justice Boehm.

"I write separately to express my view that once it was clear no evidence associated Adams with White's concerns, if no mistrial was ordered, the trial court should have at least given more than a generic and conclusory instruction to disregard White's testimony," he wrote.

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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