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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issues one Indiana decision today

In USA v. Phillippi, Michael (SD Ind., John Daniel Tinder, Judge), a 6-page opinion, Circuit Judge Manion concludes:

Here, we would have no ground for disturbing the district court’s decision to admit the government’s evidence, even if the government had wanted to introduce the second information only because it believed that two adjurations about the felony penalty were better than one. See Gonzalez v. DeTella, 127 F.3d 619, 621 (7th Cir. 1997) (noting that “no rule of law . . . limits the prosecutor to one piece of evidence in support of each element of the offense”). But there is further justification for the decision. The government argues, persuasively, that inclusion of both informations was not merely duplicative but actually necessary because of “deficiencies” in both proceedings that left either vulnerable to the claim that Phillippi did not understand the penalties he faced. In the Vigo County proceedings, the presiding judge read him the charges and the possible penalties, and asked him if he understood them, but he did not answer. Though the judge followed up with another question about the charges, he did not again probe Phillippi’s understanding of the penalty. In the Tippecanoe County proceedings, Phillippi was shown an audiovideotape that explained the charges and penalties. He confirmed in colloquy with the presiding magistrate judge that he was able to hear the videotape and that he had no questions about his rights, but he was never specifically questioned about the applicable penalties.

We perceive no abuse of discretion in the district court’s admission of this evidence, and therefore we AFFIRM the judgment of conviction.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 5, 2006 02:19 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions