ILNews

Transfer granted to confrontation issue

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to five cases Aug. 14, including a case that asks whether a defendant has the right to confront the lab technician who prepared a certificate of analysis. The high court granted transfer to Richard Pendergrass v. State of Indiana, No. 71A03-0712-CR-588, in which the Indiana Court of Appeals in July affirmed Richard Pendergrass' convictions of child molesting. The appellate court ruled Pendergrass' Sixth Amendment right to confrontation wasn't violated with the admittance of a certificate of analysis regarding DNA samples. The documents prepared by the forensic biologist - who didn't testify at trial - weren't admitted to prove Pendergrass molested his daughter and fathered a child with her, but to provide context to a doctor's opinion. On Aug. 12, a separate Court of Appeals panel ruledRicky L. Jackson had the right to confront the lab technician who prepared a report stating he had cocaine in his system. The lab technician was on maternity leave and unable to appear in court. That panel decided a certificate of analysis used to prove an element of a charged crime constitutes a testimonial statement under Crawford v. Washington, so defendants should have the right to confront the lab technician.
The court also agreed to transfer Robert J. Pelley v. State, No. 71A05-0612-CR-726, a St. Joseph County quadruple murder case that justices heard arguments on Aug. 14. At issue in the appeal is whether appellate delays constitute "court congestion" or an emergency out of prosecutorial control as it relates to a defendant's speedy trial rights.

In Filter Specialists Inc. v. Dawn Brooks and Charmaine Weathers, and Michigan City Human Rights Commission, No. 46A05-0704-CV-203, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court order affirming the decision of the Michigan City Human Rights Commission. The commission found Filter Specialists took adverse employment action against Dawn Brooks and Charmaine Weathers because they are African-American. The majority of the appellate court panel ruled the commission's decision wasn't supported by sufficient evidence. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, writing she would affirm the commission's decision but remand for a calculation of damages for Weathers. The Court of Appeals also concluded that Filter was subject to the commission's jurisdiction, the trial court properly joined the commission, and Brooks and Weather's failure to introduce a local ordinance into evidence wasn't fatal. The Supreme Court also agreed to hear City of East Chicago, Indiana v. East Chicago Second Century, No. 49A02-0608-CV-631, and Steve Carter v. East Chicago Second Century, et al., No. 49A02-0708-CV-722, as reported Monday in Indiana Lawyer Daily.
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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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