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Judge did not modify jury instructions

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A Lawrence County man was unable to prove to the Court of Appeals that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion for a mistrial. He argued the judge modified the jury instructions when he answered a question from the jury in mid-deliberations.

Jason Fields was charged with two counts of Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine. He purchased the drug from a confidential informant of the Bedford Police Department for his roommate. During jury deliberations at Fields’ trial, the jury submitted a question to Lawrence Superior Judge William Sleva asking for clarification of final instruction 11. The jury wanted to know whether the second part of the instruction required the state to prove both the first and second parts of the instruction, or just one part. That instruction laid out that the state must have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Fields’ conduct wasn’t the product of a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means to cause Fields to engage in the conduct, or that Fields was predisposed to commit the offense.

Sleva told the jury the second part of the instruction is not both, it’s an “either/or.” That’s when Fields moved for a mistrial, which Sleva denied. He was convicted of both counts.

Fields argued on appeal that the trial court erred when it answered the jury question submitted after deliberations began, thereby “modifying” the final jury instructions. The Court of Appeals disagreed, citing Taylor v. State, 677 N.E.2d 56 (Ind. Ct. Ap. 1997), in support.

As in Taylor, Sleva merely answered the jury’s question of law arising out of the case and followed the procedure set out in Indiana Code 34-36-1-6 by calling the jury back to open court and answering the questions in the presence of counsel, Judge Edward Najam wrote. The trial court was not required to reread the final instructions in their entirety.

 

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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