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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. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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