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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

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