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SCOTUS declines to consider Indiana case

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The nation’s highest court has refused to consider an Indiana case involving whether a defendant’s no contest plea to an out-of-state murder can be used to qualify him as a serious violent felon on a conviction here.

A 30-page order list issued today from the Supreme Court of the United States shows the justices decided last week to deny a writ of certiorari in the case of Robert L. Scott v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0812-CR-746. The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on the case March 25, 2010, and the state’s highest appellate court denied transfer in June. That led to the cert petition being filed in October.

The case involves Scott’s appeal of his convictions for possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, battery with a deadly weapon, pointing a firearm, and resisting law enforcement. The man was asked to leave a bar but refused, and a responding police officer was hit in the chest when trying to stop Scott. He had a gun in his hand and fled, and officers went to his house that night for a "knock and talk." Scott stepped outside to talk to the officers and consented to a search of his house for other people. In a short search, officers moved a mattress they saw on the floor and found a loaded derringer. Scott also told officers about another gun under the couch. He was arrested on an active warrant from Florida and then advised of his rights.

Scott challenged the admission of his nolo contendere plea to a Florida murder to qualify him as a serious violent felon in Indiana. He argued the plea can't be admitted under Indiana Evidence Rule 803(22), which addresses no contest pleas; or Rule 803(8), a more general hearsay exception. As there weren’t any Indiana cases addressing that issue, the appellate court relied on precedent from federal and other state courts to conclude that Rule 803(22) is intended to prevent the no contest conviction from being used in a subsequent proceeding to prove actual guilt of the prior offense. But the rule doesn't prevent admission under Rule 803(8). In addition, an exhibit shows Scott was adjudicated as guilty of second-degree murder by the Florida court, wrote Indiana Court of Appeals Senior Judge John Sharpnack.

The Court of Appeals did reverse the trial court denial of Scott's tendered jury instruction on the pointing a firearm charge. He argued the court should have informed the jury it could find him guilty of a misdemeanor if the gun he pointed at the officer was not loaded. Although it is unlikely the jury would have found the gun was not loaded, the officer's testimony that the gun malfunctioned when Scott pulled the trigger could support a reasonable inference to the contrary, Senior Judge Sharpnack wrote.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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