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Judges split on whether jury instruction erroneous

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a man who shot at police when they attempted to serve a search warrant. The judges were, however, divided as to whether the trial court erred in giving jury instructions on the presumption of innocence.

In Richard E. Simmons v. State of Indiana, 55A01-1209-CR-444, Richard Simmons was convicted of four counts of Class A felony attempted murder, two counts of Class D felony criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon and one count each of Class D felony unlawful use of body armor and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Police announced themselves to him when trying to serve a search warrant, but he hid out behind a water heater. The officers believed he had a weapon and he began firing at them, even through drywall as they ran off. The SWAT team was able to take him into custody after several hours.

The trial court declined to give Simmons’ tendered jury instruction, which said the presumption of innocence continues throughout the trial.

“It was not an abuse of discretion to so instruct the jury only in the preliminary instructions and not again in the final instructions, as other final instructions adequately conveyed to the jury the concept that the presumption of innocence continues throughout the trial,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the majority, which included Judge Rudolph Pyle III. “In final instruction number 28, the jury was told ‘You should attempt to fit the evidence to the presumption that the defendant is innocent and the theory that every witness is telling the truth.’ As it is ‘throughout the trial’ that the jury receives evidence, the instruction that it should try to fit the evidence to the presumption of Simmons’ innocence covered, in substance, the instruction that the presumption continues throughout the trial. There was no abuse of discretion.”

Senior Judge Randall Shepard wrote a concurring opinion in which he joined in affirming the convictions, but believed the jury instructions given by the court were erroneous.

“Final instructions covered the presumption and told the jury to ‘fit the evidence,’ but did not tell them the presumption ‘prevails throughout.’ This was error, of course, under Farley and Robey, but I would say not reversible, particularly in light of the fact that the full three-part instruction was given during preliminary instructions,” he wrote.

The judges agreed that consecutive sentences were appropriate because there were multiple victims.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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