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Man knowingly waived right to jury trial on all charges

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a defendant’s argument that he only agreed to a bench trial on one of the seven charges he faced following a violent altercation with his girlfriend.

Michael Johnson punched, kicked, and hit his girlfriend, I.B., after she came home in the early morning hours after being gone all night. He accused her of cheating on him, according to the court record. After beating her, he told her to “turn around” because he wanted to have sex. I.B. said she complied because she was afraid and didn’t want to get beaten again.

Johnson was charged with and convicted of Class B felonies criminal confinement and rape; Class C felony battery; Class D felonies intimidation and strangulation; and Class A misdemeanor interfering with the reporting of a crime.

He argued that he did not knowingly waive his right to a jury trial on all of his charges, the state abused its discretion in denying Johnson the right to cross-examine I.B. about past sexual conduct, and that the state didn’t prove he committed rape and intimidation.

Johnson’s written waiver only listed one count of Class B felony criminal confinement, which was the lead, most serious charge.

“It seems unlikely that Johnson would waive his right to a jury trial on his most serious charge and not on the rest,” Judge Rudolph Pyle III wrote in Michael Johnson v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1307-CR-562.  

“Second, all of Johnson’s charges were a part of the same cause, and provision number 4 of the waiver states, ‘I hereby give up my constitutional rights to a trial by jury and ask that the case be tried by the Court without a jury.’ Under the plain language of this provision, Johnson agreed to waive his right to a jury trial of the entire case, not merely Class B felony criminal confinement. Third, Johnson’s attorney signed the waiver, which indicates that Johnson acted on the advice and information of his legal counsel when filing his waiver.”

Johnson also failed to object to being tried on all of his charges during his bench trial.

The judges also ruled Johnson was precluded from introducing evidence of I.B.’s prior sexual conduct at trial because he did not follow Evidence Rule 412’s procedural requirements. As such, he waived this issue on appeal. The judges also found the state provided sufficient evidence to support his convictions.

Judge Cale Bradford concurred in result in a separate opinion, noting that he would find Johnson waived any argument concerning I.B.’s testimony because he made no offer of proof as to what her testimony would have been.

 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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