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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. 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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