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Indecision over peremptory challenge waives defendant’s ability to appeal

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A defense counsel’s courtroom debate over how to use his final peremptory strike prohibited the defendant from appealing the trial court decision to retain a juror who raised concerns about impartiality.

Gary Oswalt appealed his convictions and aggregate 84-year sentence for two counts of child molesting as Class A felonies, child solicitation as a Class D felony, and five counts of possession of child pornography as Class D felonies.  

Oswalt argued the trial court abused its discretion when it refused to remove Juror No. 28 for cause after the defense had exhausted its peremptory strikes. He maintained that juror should have been removed because during questioning the juror told the court he could not be fair and was not comfortable hearing the case.

The state countered Oswalt had not used all his peremptory challenges when the court denied his request to strike Juror No. 28. After the court denied Oswalt’s counsel’s motion to strike, the attorney had an audible conversation over whether to use his last peremptory strike to remove Juror No. 25 or Juror No. 28 before deciding to remove the former.

Therefore, the state concluded, Oswalt waived appellate review because he had not exhausted his peremptory challenge at the time that the court denied his request to strike Juror No. 28 for cause.

In Gary Oswalt v. State of Indiana, 35A02-1208-CR-684, the Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the state. It found that Oswalt had failed to exhaust his peremptory strikes at the time he tried to remove Juror No. 28.  

However, in a footnote, the Court of Appeals stated it might have ruled differently if the defense had not debated how to use the final peremptory challenge. According to the COA, the record demonstrated that when Oswalt asked the court if he had used his last preempt, the court affirmed.

If this had been the extent of the discussion, the COA stated it would agree that Oswalt had exhausted his peremptory strikes. However, the record went on to show defense counsel then debated how to use his final strike, indicating he was aware he had not used all his peremptory challenges.  

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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