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Judges amend man’s convictions due to double jeopardy violations

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Because the state relied on the same evidence to convict a Marion County man of three domestic battery or battery charges, the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated two misdemeanors. The judges also found no fundamental error in his sentencing or by the prosecutor during trial.

In Shiloh Jones v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1202-CR-74, Shiloh Jones appealed his convictions of Class D felonies domestic battery and criminal confinement, and Class A misdemeanors domestic battery and battery, as well as his 730-day sentence in the Department of Correction. The charges stem from a four-hour incident involving Jones and his girlfriend where he slapped and bit her, choked her, poured baby formula on her face and did not allow her to leave the home. Their two infant children were home at the time.

Jones was initially sentenced by Marion Superior Commissioner John Boyce, who presided over the trial, to two years on each felony count and one year on each misdemeanor count, with all sentences served concurrently. He was to serve one year in the DOC, six months on community corrections and six months on probation. But the court had to address a probation violation from a previous conviction, which led to Marion Superior Judge Barbara Collins resentencing Jones to the same length of sentence – 730 days, but all executed in the DOC.

The Court of Appeals reversed Jones’ misdemeanor battery and domestic battery convictions because the state used the same general terms to charge him with the three counts. The judges ordered the misdemeanor convictions and sentence vacated. They did not find, as Jones had argued, any double jeopardy violations regarding his criminal confinement conviction.

Jones argued that fundamental error occurred when Collins resentenced him and based on comments the prosecutor made saying that the girlfriend was telling the truth about the domestic battery incident. Collins did not increase Jones’ original sentence, but only required he serve its entirety in the DOC instead of having some probation or community corrections. This does not constitute fundamental error, Judge James Kirsch wrote, as the grant of probation is a favor and not a right.

With regards to the prosecutor’s statements, the appellate judges pointed out that Jones’ defense strategy was to challenge his girlfriend’s testimony was truthful. The woman’s credibility was at issue and both sides had their say on the matter, so the prosecutor’s statements did not place Jones in a position of grave peril nor deny him a fair trial, the judges held.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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