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Supreme Court orders third murder trial

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State justices have overturned the murder convictions and ordered a third trial for a former state trooper accused of killing his wife and two young children in Southern Indiana almost a decade ago.

In a 4-1 decision today in David R. Camm v. State of Indiana, No. 87S00-0612-CR-499, a majority of justices found two reversible errors by the Warrick Superior judge who handled the murder retrial in 2006, in that he allowed the prosecution to use speculative evidence and out-of-court statements in proving its case. But finding sufficient evidence to support the three murder convictions, the justices have ordered a new trial in the high-profile case dating back to 2000.

The case involves the shooting deaths of David Camm's wife and their two children, ages 5 and 7, in their Georgetown home. Camm was first charged and convicted of murder by a Floyd Circuit Court jury in 2002, but the state's intermediate appellate court in 2004 overturned those convictions on grounds that the case was prejudiced by prosecutorial evidence regarding Camm's character. On retrial, the case was transferred to Warrick Superior Court and Camm was convicted three years ago and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In its decision today, justices determined that Warrick Superior Judge Robert Aylsworth shouldn't have allowed prosecutors to raise the prospect that Camm had molested his young daughter, since no evidence was presented to connect the father to the molestation. Justices also took issue with the trial judge's allowance of statements that the defendant's wife had made to a friend regarding the time she expected Camm to be home on the night of the murders.

The court also addressed several other issues that may come up in another retrial, such as statements by a co-conspirator who's since been convicted; opinion testimony about bloodstain patterns at the murder scene; and a courtroom demonstration by a state expert witness.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard was the lone dissenter in this case, saying the majority hasn't considered the full scope of the "mountainous" evidence in this case and the appellate courts have too quickly glossed over his confessions of guilt and how 24 jurors have all credited the testimony and found him guilty.

"The system of justice seeks to provide a fair trial, but there is no entitlement to a perfect trial," he wrote. "I think the two reversals entered by the appellate courts in this case have unnecessarily sanitized the evidence against David Camm."

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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