ILNews

Rule of lenity doesn’t apply on man’s escape conviction

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The rule of lenity doesn’t apply to the case of a Marion County man who tried to break into a home while serving home detention as a condition of probation, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded. The judges upheld Diano Gordon’s convictions of Class D felonies escape and attempted residential entry.

Around noon on Dec. 28, 2011, Jodi Pearce heard loud noises coming from her next-door neighbor’s home. She saw two men try to kick in the back door. She called 911, watched the men leave and ran outside to see what direction they headed. An hour later, Pearce rode with a police officer to Gordon’s home, where she identified the man standing outside as the shorter of the two men trying to break into the home.

Gordon had an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle as a condition of home detention at the time of the attempted break-in.

At the bench trial, Pearce testified that Gordon was one of the men she saw; Gordon didn’t object to Pearce’s identification testimony.

Because he failed to object at trial, Gordon argued on appeal that the fundamental error doctrine should prevent admittance of evidence regarding the show-up identification by Pearce on the day of the attempted break-in.

“Pearce observed Gordon for several minutes in the middle of the day at a fairly close distance. Furthermore, her attention was focused solely on Gordon and his companion for that length of time. And Pearce was absolutely certain that Gordon was the man kicking her neighbor’s door. Under these facts and circumstances, we cannot conclude that the show-up identification was unduly suggestive,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in Diano L. Gordon v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1205-CR-242.

Even if the judges concluded the trial court erred by admitting evidence of the show-up identification, Gordon’s fundamental error argument would fail because Pearce watched him try to break into the neighbor’s home and saw him leave the scene, Mathias continued. Therefore, there was an independent basis for the in-court identification.

The COA rejected Gordon’s claim that the rule of lenity should apply to his escape conviction and be reduced to Class A misdemeanor unauthorized absence from home detention. But both statutes at issue here put the offender on notice that the conduct would result either in Class D felony escape or Class A misdemeanor unauthorized absence from home detention.

“It was within the prosecutor’s discretion to determine which charge was warranted by Gordon’s conduct,” Mathias wrote.

 

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
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

ADVERTISEMENT