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Trial court properly retained 1 juror, dismissed other

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A defendant who argued that a Marion Superior Court should have dismissed a juror after she stood near the defendant and his attorney briefly during a recess, but should not have replaced the juror who claimed she wasn’t comfortable rendering a decision, lost before the Court of Appeals Wednesday.

Romero Leslie appealed his conviction of Class B felony dealing in cocaine, arguing fundamental error by the trial court when it denied his request to dismiss juror Kim Shiflette. During a recess, Shiflette left the jury room unaccompanied in search of the bailiff and stood in a hallway near Leslie and his attorney for about 10 seconds before Leslie and his attorney saw her and stopped talking. The two were discussing trial strategy.

After a lengthy discussion with the court, Master Commissioner Peggy R. Hart allowed Shiflette to stay on the jury. Leslie did not object. Shiflette said she did not hear the conversation between Leslie and his attorney. But on appeal, he argued Hart committed fundamental error by allowing Shiflette to remain a juror.

There was no direct contact between Shiflette and Leslie or his attorney, and she said she didn’t recognize the defendant or his lead attorney in the hallway, Judge Edward Najam wrote in Romero Leslie v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1203-CR-135.

Leslie also claimed on appeal Hart should not have replaced Kermetha Brown with an alternate juror over his objection. Shortly after deliberations began, Brown wrote the court a note saying she was not comfortable deciding whether Leslie is guilty. Brown repeatedly told Hart that she was uncomfortable making a decision and she couldn’t render a decision.

The trial court determined that Brown’s inability to make a decision as a juror affected the integrity of the process, Najam wrote, and Leslie didn’t show how replacing her prejudiced the deliberations of the rest of the panel or impaired his right to a trial by jury.


 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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