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Photos admissible when evidence has been destroyed

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In an appeal from a man convicted of Class B dealing in methamphetamine and Class B misdemeanor visiting a common nuisance, the Indiana Court of Appeals has held that photos of a methamphetamine lab were admissible because the physical evidence had been destroyed.

In Jason Jones v. State of Indiana, No. 34A05-1101-CR-66, Jason Jones argued that because officers failed to comply with Indiana Code 35-33-5-5 subsections (e), (f) and (g), certain photographic and testimonial evidence should not have been admitted into evidence.

Kokomo police arrested Jones as he attempted to leave a house where police were serving a search warrant. During the search, police found evidence of methamphetamine production.

 Before trial, law enforcement officers used a Hazmat team to destroy some of the chemicals and chemically contaminated materials found in the home’s garage. At trial, Jones moved to exclude evidence of any item not received by him in discovery, claiming that law enforcement officers had failed to comply with Indiana Code 35-33-5-5, which governs the disposition of property held as evidence and authorizes law enforcement to destroy chemicals, controlled substances and chemically contaminated equipment associated with the manufacture of drugs.

However, citing Arizona v. Youngblood, 488 U.S. 51, 58 (1988), the appeals court held the state does not have “an undifferentiated and absolute duty to retain and preserve all material that might be of conceivable evidentiary significance in a particular prosecution.” The COA wrote that in the context of hazardous chemicals and materials, tension arises between the practical need for destruction and the threat of prejudice to the substantial rights of a criminal defendant, which necessarily occurs when evidence is destroyed.

Jones also objected to Kokomo Police Officer Jim Nielson’s testimony regarding the “one-pot” method of methamphetamine production. The COA held that Nielson’s training and experience qualified him as a skilled witness, and therefore the court did not err in allowing his testimony about the one-pot reaction method.

Jones also objected to the court’s denial of his motion for a continuance, but because that argument was raised for the first time on appeal, he has waived the issue, the court held.

 

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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