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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