Justices take appeal involving eavesdropping cops

September 21, 2015

Whether Michigan City police officers should be forbidden from testifying in a murder case because they eavesdropped on the suspect’s conversation with attorneys will be decided by the Indiana Supreme Court.

Justices took State of Indiana v. Brian J. Taylor, 46A04-1407-CR-316. A divided Court of Appeals reversed a blanket LaPorte County trial court order forbidding any officer who eavesdropped on Taylor’s conversation with his attorney from testifying on any aspect of his case.

Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the COA majority joined by Judge Rudolph Pyle III that that while the officers’ behavior merits and warrants stern disapproval, such an extreme remedy hasn’t generally been approved. Dissenting Judge Melissa May would have affirmed the trial court on the basis that the officers’ Sixth Amendment violation requires barring them from testifying.

Justices in a separate case will consider whether a man convicted of robbing two liquor stores and a bank also could be convicted of corrupt business influence. The case is Ashonta Kenya Jackson v. State of Indiana, 48A02-1409-CR-670.

Jackson’s conviction on the corrupt business influence count was vacated by a divided Court of Appeals panel in which the majority Judges Edward Najam and Ezra Friedlander ruled the state had failed to prove a threat of continued criminal activity. Dissenting Judge John Baker wrote that language is not found in the statute and declined to insert the language.

The justices’ transfer list for the week ending Sept. 18 also includes two cases granted transfer and decided Friday involving three members of the “Elkhart 4.” Justices reversed murder convictions and remanded for sentencing on burglary convictions for defendants who broke into a home and whose cohort was fatally wounded by the homeowner.

The cases are Blake Layman & Levi Sparks v. State of Indiana, 20S04-1509-CR-548 and Anthony P. Sharp, Jr. v. State of Indiana, 20S04-1509-CR-549.

Justices denied transfer in 20 cases. Supreme Court transfer disposition lists may be viewed here.



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