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YouTube video prejudiced jury

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The use of a YouTube video during closing arguments as a demonstrative aid by the state warrants a reversal of a robbery conviction because it may have prejudiced the jury, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Terrence Miller v. State of Indiana, No. 09A02-0812-CR-1133, Terrence Miller appealed his conviction of Class B felony robbery and 18-year sentence to the Indiana Department of Correction. He claimed the trial court shouldn't have allowed the prosecutor to use a YouTube video created for school administrators to show how easily people could conceal weapons inside their clothing. The prosecutor noted before playing the video for the jury that it had nothing to do with the case.

Miller's defense was mistaken identity, and the fact whether the robber had a concealed weapon wasn't challenged at trial. The use of the video didn't meet the factors under Peterson v. State, 514 N.E.2d 265, 270 (Ind. 1987), the Court of Appeals determined.

Judges Melissa May and Paul Barnes concluded the use of the YouTube video was prejudicial to the jury and could have caused them to view Miller negatively. The majority reversed his conviction.

Chief Judge John Baker dissented, finding the error of using the video wasn't reversible. Because Miller's defense was mistaken identity, the YouTube video wasn't prejudicial to Miller.

"I cannot conclude that the video was so inflammatory that it would have altered the way in which the jury viewed Miller and the case as a whole, and given that the video was irrelevant to Miller's defense, I can only conclude that the trial court's decision to permit the State to show the video to the jury was harmless error," he wrote.

Based on Miller's other arguments for reversal, the chief judge found Miller wasn't entitled to relief on those grounds and would affirm the conviction.

Judge Barnes concurred with Judge May in a separate opinion, addressing Chief Judge Baker's stance, but he believed the video was "the proverbial evidentiary harpoon that skewed the ability of the jury to fairly and impartially decide the case."

"I am always reluctant to reverse jury verdicts, but I am never reluctant to attempt, as I view it, to ensure fairness. I do not think Miller got a fair shake here, and I vote with Judge May to reverse," he wrote.

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  1. Oh, the name calling was not name calling, it was merely social commentary making this point, which is on the minds of many, as an aside to the article's focus: https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111082327AAmlmMa Or, if you prefer a local angle, I give you exhibit A in that analysis of viva la difference: http://fox59.com/2015/03/16/moed-appears-on-house-floor-says-hes-not-resigning/

  2. Too many attorneys take their position as a license to intimidate and threaten non attorneys in person and by mail. Did find it ironic that a reader moved to comment twice on this article could not complete a paragraph without resorting to insulting name calling (rethuglican) as a substitute for reasoned discussion. Some people will never get the point this action should have made.

  3. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  4. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  5. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

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