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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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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