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

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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.



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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues