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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court reinstates trial court's murder conviction

In Ronnie Drane v. State, a 7-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Shepard writes:

At the conclusion of a bench trial, the court found appellant Ronnie Drane guilty for the rape and murder of Tomorra “Precious” Taylor and sentenced him to a combined total of eighty-five years. The Court of Appeals reversed for insufficient evidence. Having granted transfer, we affirm the trial court. * * *

Sufficiency of the Evidence. To make a long story short, we think the Court of Appeals reweighed the evidence. * * *

Conclusion. We affirm the trial court.

Although it would be interesting to read the June 29, 2006 Court of Appeals opinion, it was designated Not For Publication at the time, and this action came before the decision of the courts in the fall of 2006 to make NFP opinions available online.

A July 27, 2006 ILB entry quoted from a belated newspaper report of the ruling and noted:

Although this is a reversal, the panel determined it did not meet the criteria of Appellate Rule 65, and designated the 15-page opinion as Not for Publication (NFP). Thus it is not available on the court website. * * * Opinions designated by the Court of Appeals panel as "not-for-publication" currently are neither generally available nor citeable. But they are public documents. Why should they not be made available online, along with the other rulings of the Court of Appeals?
Interestingly, a petition for rehearing was filed in the Drane case, which the Court of Appeals granted in a Sept. 8, 2006 ruling. (This rehearing is not noted in today's opinion.) Although also designated NFP, this Sept, 8, 2006 ruling came after the decision to post NFPs online, and so may be accessed here. A quote from p. 2 of the opinion:
As noted in our memorandum decision, we are well aware that we must not reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of witnesses. We reversed Drane’s convictions because our review of the evidence did not reveal substantial evidence of probative value to support them.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 29, 2007 11:19 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions