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Man convicted of molestation was denied fair trial

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A Greene County man convicted of Class A felony child molesting is entitled to a new trial because extensive hearsay and vouching testimony was admitted in error, the Court of Appeals held Wednesday.

In Jerry L. Kindred v. State of Indiana, 28A01-1202-PC-50, Jerry Kindred appealed the denial of his request for post-conviction relief and reinstated his direct appeal to the felony conviction. Kindred was convicted of molesting his girlfriend’s granddaughter while they slept in the same bed.

Don Fish, a caseworker for Green County Child Protective Services, and Julie Martin, a sex-crimes investigator employed by the Green County Prosecutor’s Office, interviewed A.G. about her allegations that Kindred placed his finger in her vagina on several occasions. At Kindred’s trial, Martin testified about her role in charging decisions and she and Fish testified regarding what A.G. told them during the forensic interviews.

This testimony was not properly offered as course-of-investigation evidence as the state had argued, Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote. The fact that Martin generally requires corroborating evidence before filing charges is irrelevant. The testimony also contained hearsay.

A.G.’s mother, grandmother, and the grandmother’s ex-husband, as well as Martin and Fish, also testified that A.G. said Kindred molested her. A.G. also testified that Kindred molested her. This was drumbeat evidence, the judges held, pointing to the length of the testimony by Martin and Fish. The jury also heard Kindred’s entire 40-minute interview with investigators at which Fish repeatedly suggested Kindred touched A.G. and A.G. was being truthful.

There was also fundamental error when A.G.’s relatives vouched for A.G.’s credibility. The appellate court extended the decision of Hoglund v. State, N.E.2d 1230 (Ind. 2012), in which the Supreme Court expressly eliminated the vouching-testimony exception in child molesting cases, to also include testimony referencing whether a child was coached.

“We read Hoglund to suggest that testimony about whether a child has been coached amounts to the same improper commentary on the child’s truthfulness as testimony about whether a child is prone to exaggerate or fantasize about sexual matters. We hold that general testimony about the signs of coaching, as well as the presence or absence of those signs in the child victim at issue, preserves the ultimate credibility determination for the jury and therefore does not constitute vouching. By contrast, where a witness opines as to whether the child victim was coached — offering an ultimate opinion, as Fish did here — the witness invades the province of the jury and vouches for the child,” Vaidik wrote.

 Kindred may be retried if the state chooses to do so, the judges ruled after reversing his conviction.

 

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  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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