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No fundamental error in jury seeing previously dismissed counts

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The Indiana Court of Appeals relied in part on two decades-old cases from the state Supreme Court to find that exposing the jury to dismissed charges did not deprive a defendant of a fundamentally fair trial.

In Eriberto Quiroz v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1107-CR-577, Eriberto Quiroz appealed his convictions of Class A and Class C felony child molesting and argued that he was denied a fair trial when the jury was given a copy of the charging information which included counts that had been dismissed.

Quiroz, 27, had molested the six-year-old half-sister of his friend by pulling down the girl’s pants and licking her vagina. He also threatened her with a knife to not tell anyone.

The jury was given the charging information, which included two child molesting charges that were dismissed. He didn’t object at trial and the judge specifically instructed the jury that those two counts had been withdrawn and to not consider them when evaluating the other charges. Although the appellate court couldn’t find any Indiana case directly on point, it relied on Berry v. State, 196 Ind. 258, 148 N.E. 143 (1925), and Nordyke v. State, 213 Ind. 243, 11 N.E. 2d 165 (1937), as well as decisions from outside of Indiana to find there is no error in permitting the jury to have access to an information or indictment that has dismissed counts when the jury is also told that the dismissed counts aren’t to be considered or the charging instrument isn’t evidence.

“In short, while certainly not the best practice, the trial court did not commit fundamental error in including in the jury instructions a copy of the charging information that included the counts against Quiroz that had previously been dismissed,” wrote Judge Paul Mathias.

The judges ordered that Quiroz’s Class C felony conviction be vacated because the same act was used to support the Class C felony and Class A felony charges. The judges also upheld his 40-year sentence.

 

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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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