ILNews

Prosecutor’s comments on defendant not testifying don’t require reversal

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Court of Appeals, in addressing a defendant’s claims of prosecutorial misconduct, found that any misconduct committed was a harmless error and does not require criminal deviate conduct and sexual battery convictions to be overturned.

Craig Bakari Thomas sexually assaulted his classmate K.B. while the two were sitting in a car at a park. Thomas chose not to testify at his trial and was convicted of two counts of Class B felony criminal deviate conduct and one count of Class D felony sexual battery.

In Craig Bakari Thomas v. State of Indiana, 71A04-1305-CR-256, Thomas argued that two comments by a deputy prosecutor resulted in prosecutorial misconduct. Both referred to Thomas not testifying at the trial. The trial court issued an admonishment to the jury regarding the first comment made by the deputy prosecutor that said there is no other story, to disregard the fact that Thomas wasn’t sworn and didn’t testify. The judge did not issue an admonishment regarding the second comment, in which the deputy prosecutor said, “That’s not what the defendant is saying. The defendant is not saying ….” The judge required the deputy prosecutor to clarify that those statements referred to statements Thomas gave to police officers.

With respect to the first comment, the Court of Appeals agreed that the deputy prosecutor’s comments reasonably could be interpreted as an invitation to draw an adverse inference from Thomas’ silence. In fact, the deputy was suggesting that the jury draw an inference of guilt from Thomas’ decision to not be sworn in and tell his story. But the error was harmless, because the state could prove that the comment did not contribute to the verdict. The judge’s curative instruction defused the impact of the state’s improper remark, Judge Patricia Riley wrote.

The COA noted that the second comment did not amount to an indirect reference to Thomas’ decision to not testify.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. It is amazing how selectively courts can read cases and how two very similar factpatterns can result in quite different renderings. I cited this very same argument in Brown v. Bowman, lost. I guess it is panel, panel, panel when one is on appeal. Sad thing is, I had Sykes. Same argument, she went the opposite. Her Rooker-Feldman jurisprudence is now decidedly unintelligible.

  2. November, 2014, I was charged with OWI/Endangering a person. I was not given a Breathalyzer test and the arresting officer did not believe that alcohol was in any way involved. I was self-overmedicated with prescription medications. I was taken to local hospital for blood draw to be sent to State Tox Lab. My attorney gave me a cookie-cutter plea which amounts to an ALCOHOL-related charge. Totally unacceptable!! HOW can I get my TOX report from the state lab???

  3. My mother got temporary guardianship of my children in 2012. my husband and I got divorced 2015 the judge ordered me to have full custody of all my children. Does this mean the temporary guardianship is over? I'm confused because my divorce papers say I have custody and he gets visits and i get to claim the kids every year on my taxes. So just wondered since I have in black and white that I have custody if I can go get my kids from my moms and not go to jail?

  4. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  5. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

ADVERTISEMENT