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Supreme Court grants 2 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday to an ineffective assistance of trial counsel case and a case involving the testimony at trial of a previous victim of a defendant.

In John D. Farris v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-0805-PC-245, John Farris claimed he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel during his murder trial. Before his murder trial, he was found guilty of robbery and found to be a habitual offender. His robbery sentence was enhanced based on the habitual-offender status. His murder and aggravated battery sentence also was enhanced because he was again found to be a habitual offender.

The majority in the Indiana Court of Appeals' case ruled Farris hadn't show his trial counsel's failure to move to dismiss a second habitual-offender enhancement fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and affirmed the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The appellate panel questioned whether the holding in Seay v. State, 550 N.E.2d 1284, 1288 (Ind. 1990), which prohibited stacking habitual-offender enhancements, applied to the facts of Farris' case.

Judge Carr Darden dissented, believing if Farris' trial counsel had moved to dismiss the habitual-offender allegation filed with the murder and battery charges, Seay would have mandated the motion be granted.

In Otho L. Lafayette v. State of Indiana, No. 45A03-0803-CR-118, the Court of Appeals reversed Ortho Lafayette's convictions of rape, criminal confinement, and felony intimidation, as well as his repeat sexual-offender status after determining the trial court committed reversible error by admitting the testimony of a woman he previously attempted to rape in 1997. The appellate judges disagreed as to whether Lafayette put his intent at issue during trial by attempting to show his victim consented to sex with him. He was charged with raping C.E., a woman he met at a gas station; at trial, E.C., who Lafayette was convicted of attempting to rape years earlier, testified pursuant to Indiana Evidence Rule 404(b). The majority ruled E.C.'s testimony shouldn't have been admitted to show Lafayette's intent with C.E. They reversed and remanded for a new trial.

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented because she believed Lafayette put his intent at issue during trial and the evidence of his previous attempted rape was relevant. She also believed E.C.'s testimony was admissible under Ind. Evid. Rule 402 because it revealed a nearly identical scenario in how Lafayette met both women and got them alone to attack them.

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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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