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No error in admitting testimony of domestic violence expert

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that the admission of testimony by a domestic violence expert at trial did not violate four of Indiana’s evidence rules, as the defendant argued.

In Brian Otte v. State of Indiana, No. 84A01-1108-CR-356, Brian Otte was convicted of Class D felony residential entry; three counts of Class B misdemeanor battery; Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief; Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated; Class B misdemeanor failure to stop after an accident resulting in damage to unattended vehicle; and being a habitual offender. Otte broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, beat up her current boyfriend, and hit his ex-girlfriend, Colleen Amos. After leaving, Otte rammed his car into Amos’ several times.

Otte was charged Nov. 15, 2010; on March 15, 2011, he moved for a speedy trial. On April 29, the state moved for a continuance because two police officers would be out of town and unavailable for the May 19, 2011, trial date. Even after offering refunds to the officers for their vacations they would have to reschedule, one officer refused to move his vacation. The trial court granted the state’s motion and reset the trial for June 2.

At trial, after which defense asked Amos about domestic violence allegations she had made against Otte then recanted, the state introduced testimony from Yvonne Creekbaum, a domestic violence expert. She testified that victims of domestic violence routinely recant their stories.

On appeal, Otte challenged the admission of Creekbaum’s testimony and claimed his right to a speedy trial was violated.

The state made multiple attempts to secure the two officers at trial, but one was not amenable to rescheduling the vacation. Given the precedent permitting Criminal Rule 4(D) extensions for witnesses who are out of state and/or on long-planned vacations, the appellate court was satisfied that the extension was justified in the instant case.

The judges also ruled against Otte on his claims that Creekbaum wasn’t qualified under Indiana Evidence Rule 701 to give lay testimony; that Creekbaum was not qualified to be an expert witness under Rule 702; that Creekbaum’s testimony constituted impermissible vouching testimony pursuant to Rule 704(b); and that it was overly prejudicial pursuant to Rule 403.

Judge Nancy Vaidik concurred in result in a separate opinion, noting that she believed Creekbaum’s testimony was admissible under Rule 702 as syndrome evidence to help the jury understand why Amos recanted certain allegations she made against Otte. Battered Women’s Syndrome is a valid scientific theory under Rule 702, she wrote, so Creekbaum’s testimony regarding BWS is admissible.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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