Justices deadlock 2-2 on transfer in two cases

May 16, 2016

The Indiana Supreme Court deadlocked on one case after oral arguments and denied transfer to another after a 2-2 vote in the court’s list of transfer dispositions for the week ending May 13. The split vote in the absence of a fifth justice reinstates rulings of the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In Douglas Bragg v. State, 49S02-1601-CR-38, the Court of Appeals affirmed in October in a 2-1 memorandum decision Douglas Bragg’s convictions of Class A felony criminal deviate conduct, Class C felony sexual battery and Class D felony theft. Bragg had claimed the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his motion to strike a prospective juror for cause because the juror was a deputy attorney general. After oral arguments, however, the four justices could not come to a majority decision, reinstating the COA’s decision and denying transfer to the case.

The court also denied transfer in Melvin C. Hamilton v. State of Indiana, 65A04-1412-CR-592 in which the court of appeals ruled a man convicted of Class A felony child molesting must be retried because the trial court erred by admitting testimony from a forensic interviewer who said there was no evidence the alleged victims had been coached. The four justices deadlocked on transfer 2-2, with Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Mark Massa voting for transfer and Robert Rucker and Steven David voting against.

The court also granted transfer to a case it previously denied, Henry G.I. McCullough et al. v. Citimortgage Inc. 71A03-1509-MF-1349. The Supreme Court denied the case May 5, but vacated that order to accept it this week.

Justice Brent Dickson retired in late April and will be succeeded on the court by Indianapolis attorney Geoffrey Slaughter, who will join the court in the coming weeks.

Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.




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