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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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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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