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Prosecutor’s ‘CSI’ remarks don’t reverse molestation conviction

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A prosecutor’s comments to a prospective juror comparing the evidence needed for a conviction to that seen in a typical “CSI” television show weren’t fundamental error, a Court of Appeals panel ruled in affirming a man’s child-molestation conviction.

The panel affirmed conviction of two counts of Class A felony child molesting in Jason Deaton v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1303-CR-282.  Deaton appealed citing the “CSI” remarks and the prosecutor’s statement during closing that a victim’s testimony alone was sufficient for conviction.

Deaton pointed to a prosecutor’s questions during jury selection in which he asked how people perceived the popular crime procedural drama and the need for DNA or other evidence to support a conviction. Deaton said the questions were meant to reduce the state’s burden of proof.

Cited in the record are the prosecutor’s reference to the “CSI” shows and these remarks: “Does anyone -- would anyone need DNA evidence in a case like this? Would anyone need fingerprint evidence in a case like this? Is anyone going to hold me to a ‘CSI’ standard? Make me bring in all sorts of forensic evidence and fingerprints and DNA and do the light shows that they do on that show? Is anyone expecting that?”

Judge Melissa May wrote that because Denton had preserved neither prosecutorial misconduct claims for appeal, the alleged misconduct would have to rise to fundamental error, and it didn’t in either case. She noted the prosecutor in fact had correctly stated the law in closing.

“(T)his court and our Indiana Supreme Court have upheld child molesting convictions on the uncorroborated testimony of the victim on many occasions,” May wrote for the panel that included Judges Cale Bradford and James Kirsch, noting Deaton pointed to no caselaw stating otherwise.

“Deaton has not demonstrated fundamental error in the State’s comments during voir dire regarding the ‘CSI effect’ and the State’s comments during closing arguments regarding the evidence presented,” May wrote. “Further, the State presented sufficient evidence to convict Deaton of two counts of Class A felony child molesting. Accordingly, we affirm.”   
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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