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SCOTUS declines to take Indiana criminal case

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The nation’s highest court won’t take a case asking whether a defendant’s second trial was barred by the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment, meaning that an Indiana Supreme Court decision on the issue will stand.

In an order list released Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States decided against taking the case of Nathan Brock v. State of Indiana, No. 11-8436, challenging a decision by the state justices last year.

In that Oct. 18 ruling, the justices found that although the defendant didn’t consent to a mistrial, Jay Superior Judge Max Ludy Jr. didn’t abuse his discretion in finding that a mistrial was justified by “manifest necessity.”

Nathan Brock appealed his conviction of Class C felony operating a motor vehicle after forfeiture of driving privileges for life. He was charged with violating Indiana Code 9-30-10-17, and during trial his defense counsel made several improper statements to the jury — including insinuating that redacted material in Brock’s driving record may have been beneficial to Brock. The state moved for a mistrial, but the court denied it and ordered that evidence would be reopened. After a short recess, Ludy decided to grant the request for a mistrial and discharged the jury. Brock filed a motion to dismiss on double jeopardy grounds just before his second trial was to begin. The trial court denied that motion and he was convicted. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Brock waived his right to claim double jeopardy because he didn’t timely object to the state’s motion for a mistrial, and manifest necessity justified the judge’s decision.

In its decision, Justice Frank Sullivan wrote that Brock did not consent to the trial judge’s declaration of a mistrial. The court adopted the approach taken by the federal appellate courts which have held that a defendant consents to a mistrial when he or she has an opportunity to object and fails to do so. These courts have also recognized that sometimes there is no opportunity to object and to prohibit a defendant from raising a double jeopardy claim under these circumstances would be too harsh, Sullivan wrote.

Brock’s attorney, Dale Arnett in Winchester, filed a petition for certiorari in October and this denial means the state ruling is the final word unless a rehearing request is filed with the SCOTUS.

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  1. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

  2. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  3. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  4. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  5. Different rules for different folks....

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