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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides two today

In Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC v. Gerald and Madeline Holmes, a 13-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Boehm writes:

In this case the prevailing party at trial discovered potentially highly relevant and favor-able evidence ten days before trial but did not communicate the discovery to the opposing party until the first day of trial. The evidence was admitted, but posttrial testing revealed that the evidence was not what it was represented to be. Under these circumstances, we hold that a motion to test the evidence filed within the time for a motion to correct error satisfies the diligence required of the opposing party to seek a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. We remand for a new trial. * * *

We do not suggest that a new trial is required whenever evidence appears at the eleventh or, as in this case, the thirteenth hour. Critical exhibits rarely surface within the weeks before trial, but when they do, parties considering offering them, and parties who have ongoing discovery obligations, are obligated to inform opposing counsel immediately. Even if the jeans were authentic, failure to communicate their existence shifted the practical burden of this late discovery to the innocent opposing party. If, as seems to be the case, the jeans were not what they appeared to be, the problem is compounded. The unusual circumstances surrounding this case lead us to conclude that equity requires a new trial. * * *

The order of the trial court denying Speedway’s Motion to Correct Error and for Relief from Judgment under Indiana Trial Rules 59 and 60 is reversed, and the trial court’s grant of Speedway’s motion to test the jeans is affirmed. The case is remanded with instructions to vacate the judgment and schedule a new trial.

In Hobert Alan Pittman v. State of Indiana, a 15-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Boehm writes:
The defendant, known as “Albert” Pittman, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of felony murder, and one count each of attempted murder, theft, auto theft, and conspiracy to commit burglary. The jury found that Pittman intentionally killed each of the murder victims and recommended a sentence of life without parole on each of the murder counts. The trial court sentenced Pittman to two consecutive life sentences for the murders plus consecutive sentences on the other counts aggregating seventy-three years. We find that the evidence does not support one of the life without parole sentences and remand with instructions to enter a consecutive sentence of sixty-five years on that count. We otherwise affirm Pittman’s convictions and sentences. * * *

Pittman’s convictions are affirmed, as are his sentences for the murder of Myrtle Satterfield, attempted murder of Linda Pittman, conspiracy to commit burglary, theft, and auto theft. This case is remanded to the trial court with instructions to enter a sentence of 65 years for the murder of Hobert Pittman, to be served consecutively to his other sentences.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 15, 2008 12:34 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions