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Woman didn't prove she should get new trial

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Finding a defendant didn't meet her burden of proving her newly discovered evidence claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. The appellate court also ruled the court didn't err in excluding expert testimony during her post-conviction hearing.

In Alexa Whedon v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0808-PC-677, Alexa Whedon was convicted of murder under an accomplice liability theory; the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed her conviction and sentence on direct appeal.

In 2004, she filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging she had newly discovered evidence based on information from Michelle Griffin. Griffin testified that she was in jail on a forgery charge at the same time as Whedon and three other inmates who testified at Whedon's trial about what Whedon had told them regarding her connection to the murder.

Griffin claimed the women were lying and banded together on one story to benefit their own incarceration. The post-conviction court questioned Griffin's credibility and ruled her testimony was just mere impeachment evidence of the state's witnesses and doesn't meet the newly discovered evidence test.

The Court of Appeals found Whedon failed to prove three of the nine requirements of when new evidence mandates a new trial when it found Griffin's testimony was merely impeaching, not worthy of credit, and wouldn't probably produce different results at trial. The appellate court only addressed the credibility issue. The post-conviction court found Griffin to be vague in her answers and lacking credibility, so Whedon failed to show she's entitled to a new trial, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik.

The Court of Appeals examined the testimony of Whedon's expert witness, Rob Warden, who spoke about incentivized witnesses and wrongful convictions. Warden had conducted studies on wrongful convictions involving "snitches." The post-conviction court excluded his testimony on the grounds it violated Ind. Evid. Rules 702 and 704.

The subject of "incentivized testimony" isn't a scientific, technical, or other specialized area in which an expert must guide the trier of fact, wrote Judge Vaidik. Because his testimony fell within the trier of fact's common sense, it wasn't helpful and was properly excluded. In addition, his testimony implies the witnesses in this case didn't testify truthfully or were more likely than not to lie; Rule 704(b), she wrote, prohibits a witness from testifying about whether a witness has testified truthfully.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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