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Supreme Court upholds life without parole sentence

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The Indiana Supreme Court has affirmed a man’s murder and robbery convictions and left in place his sentence of life without the possibility of parole.

Jeffery Cain came to Indiana with Matthu Sanders to find work. While in Indiana, they met Sanders’ friend Clinton Daniel Hess. Hess had a longstanding dispute with Raymond Morrow, who owned and operated a flea market. Morrow was later found dead in his flea market and the state charged Cain, Sanders, Hess and Matthew Nelson with murder, intentional murder and robbery while armed with a deadly weapon.

Cain objected to Hess’ testimony at his trial. On appeal, he argues that Hess’ testimony should have been excluded and that the prosecutor made prejudicial statements during her closing argument at the sentencing phase of his trial.

Hess originally refused to testify at Cain’s trial, but the state secured his testimony after the first day of that trial in exchange for a drastically lower charge in his own case. Cain argued that this caused him unfair surprise and deprived him of a fair trial. The justices disagreed, noting that Hess was listed as a witness for the state and that Cain’s lawyer had adequate time to prepare for cross-examination. The trial court was well within its discretion to deny Cain’s motion to exclude Hess’ testimony, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard in Jeffery W. Cain v. State of Indiana, No. 17S00-1008-CR-684.

The high court also looked at the prosecutor’s closing argument in which she mentioned terms-of-years sentences and how they can be reduced based on participation in education and other programs. She said, “Now people that are convicted of murder are pretty much on the bottom of their list to give ’em deals. But they have a lot of power to do that, unless you sentence Jeff Cain to life without parole.”

“Inaccurate as the prosecutor’s portrayal of these programs was, it seems apparent that the level of intentionality in Cain’s conduct (that being the charged aggravator) was very high,” wrote Shepard. “We conclude that this single paragraph in a closing argument that ran to over seven pages of transcript was not fundamental error.”
 

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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