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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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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