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Justices affirm rejection of tendered jury instruction

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Judges have wide discretion regarding when and whether to use tendered jury instructions, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in affirming the conviction of a criminal defendant whose proffered instructions on defense of another were rejected.

In Jamar Washington v. State of Indiana, 49S02-1212-CR-669, Washington appealed a Marion Superior judge’s decision not to use tendered jury instructions and instead rely on the Indiana Pattern Jury Instruction.

Washington was convicted of two counts of resisting law enforcement, one count of battery on a law enforcement officer resulting in injury one count of disorderly conduct after a melee in downtown Indianapolis. The mother of his then-8-month-old son confronted him outside a nightclub and handed the child to someone else as fighting ensued.

A police officer grabbed the mother from behind in an attempt to break up the fighting, and Washington said he didn’t know the woman had handed the baby to someone else when he grabbed the officer by the neck in an attempt to pull him off the woman.

Washington’s tendered jury instructions included the observation that someone defending another “will not be accountable for an error in judgment as to the need to use force or the amount of force necessary.” The trial court found Washington’s tendered instructions cumulative and unnecessary in light of the pattern instructions.

“We hold that the Indiana Pattern Jury Instruction is a correct statement of the law and continues to serve as the primary guide for our trial judges on this issue,” Justice Steven David wrote for the unanimous court. “It contains language which compliments the self-defense or defense of another statute regarding the factors as they existed in the mind of the defendant balanced against whether such belief was reasonable.

“Trial courts continue to have the discretion to augment the pattern instructions whenever they deem appropriate and to refuse any tendered instructions,” the court held. “Their decisions will be reviewed for an abuse of discretion.”

Justices remanded the case to correct the sentencing abstract that reflects conviction of resisting law enforcement as a Class D felony that should be entered as a Class A misdemeanor.




 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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