Justices to hear case ordering confidential informant to sit for defense interview

An order requiring a confidential informant to sit down for a face-to-face interview with defense counsel will be reviewed by Indiana’s highest court after justices granted transfer to the Marion County case.

The case of State of Indiana v. Justin Jones, 21S-CR-50, was the only case granted transfer by the Indiana Supreme Court for the week ending Feb. 5.

Justin Jones was charged in 2018 with various felonies after being arrested as a “serial burglar.” An Indianapolis police officer spoke with a confidential informant, who provided information about a home invasion that ultimately led to charges against Jones.

Jones’ counsel made three attempts to question the informant in a manner that protected the CI’s identity, but when those attempts failed, the Marion Superior Court ordered the state to produce the CI for a face-to-face interview. Defense counsel, however, could not ask “any questions that may disclose the [CI’s] identity, identifiers, residence, etc.”

“Here, the court fashioned a solution that balanced Jones’ right to information that would allow him to prepare his defense with the State’s desire to keep the CI’s identity hidden when it allowed Jones’ counsel to interview the CI without asking any questions that would reveal the CI’s identity,” the Indiana Court of Appeals held in November, upholding the trial court’s order on interlocutory appeal. “Because the State did not meet its burden to demonstrate that the CI’s identity would be revealed, it has failed to meet its initial burden to establish that the informer’s privilege applies in the case.”

Supreme Court oral arguments in Jones’ case have not yet been scheduled.

The justices denied transfer to 13 other cases last week, with unanimous denials for 10 of those.

But Chief Justice Loretta Rush dissented to the denial of transfer to three cases: Centennial Park LLC v. Highland Park Estates, LLC, 20A-PL-467; Stephanie Reagan v. State of Indiana, 20A-CR-907; and Scott A. Bringle and Traci A. Bringle, 19A-DN-3007. Justice Mark Massa also dissented to the denial of transfer to the Centennial Park case.

The full list of transfer decisions is available online.

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