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Judges order new rape trial based on inadmissible evidence

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Because a detective’s testimony that a man on trial for committing rape was also a suspect in another case likely had a prejudicial impact on the jury finding the man guilty, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered a new trial.

Ronald Dewayne Thompson was charged with Class A felony rape and Class B felony criminal deviate conduct, with prosecutors alleging he raped T.H. after offering to give her a ride. Thompson does not deny having sex with T.H., but claimed it was consensual.

During his trial, a Merrillville police detective testified that he was able to link Thompson to the rape of T.H. because Thompson was also a suspect in another sexual assault case that involved a similar location, vehicle and description of the suspect.

Thompson was convicted and sentenced to an aggregate 60-year sentence. In Ronald DeWayne Thompson v. State of Indiana, 45A03-1401-CR-8, he claimed the admission of the detective’s testimony violated Evidence Rule 404(b), because it did not fall under the identity or intent exceptions cited by the state.

The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the convictions, noting that identity was not an issue because Thompson admitted to having sexual intercourse with T.H., so evidence of prior bad acts was not admissible to show modus operandi. The judges also found that the evidence is not admissible to show intent, because Thomson’s consent is not in question, just the victim’s, so contrary intent is not applicable.

“Here, the jury heard evidence suggesting that Thompson had sexually assaulted another woman. Thompson asserted that he had consensual sexual intercourse with T.H., while T.H. asserted that she had not consented. Therefore, the determination of Thompson’s guilt hinged solely on the credibility of T.H. In light of these circumstances, we find it likely that Detective Smith’s testimony had a prejudicial impact on the jury and contributed to the guilty verdict,” Judge John Baker wrote.
 

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  3. 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.

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