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Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Two Indiana decisions today from the 7th Circuit

In Griffin and Griffin v. Robert K. Foley, MD (SD Ind., Judge Young), a 30-page opinion, Judge Manion writes:

As a result of a car accident, Lisa Griffin had to undergo back surgery, which Dr. Robert Foley performed. After complications arose from the surgery, Lisa and her husband Michael filed this diversity suit against Foley in the district court alleging medical malpractice. The case went to trial, and a jury returned a verdict in favor of Foley. The Griffins appeal, raising several challenges to the trial court’s procedural handling of their case. We affirm. * * *

As we have said before, “civil litigants are entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one.” Lemons v. Skidmore, 985 F.2d 354, 357 (7th Cir. 1993). In its order denying the Griffins’ motion for a new trial, the district court stated that it was satisfied that the Griffins received a fair trial. We echo that sentiment, and AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.

In US v. Rogers (ND Ind., Judge Springmann), an 11-page opinion, Judge Sykes writes:
Federal Rule of Evidence 609(b) severely limits the use of a prior conviction to impeach a witness if a period of more than ten years has elapsed since the conviction or the witness’s release from any confinement imposed for that conviction. This appeal presents the question of whether probation following a prison term constitutes “confinement” for purposes of the ten-year time limit under Rule 609(b)—in other words, whether the ten-year clock begins to run upon the witness’s release from prison or the expiration of his ensuing probation or parole. We conclude that probation does not constitute “confinement” within the meaning of Rule 609(b).

Anthony Rogers was tried in 2005 on charges of making a false statement on a firearm-purchase form and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He testified in his own defense and was impeached with his 1993 conviction for distribution of cocaine. Rogers was released from prison on that conviction in 1994 after his sentence was modified to probation; he then remained on probation supervision until 1999. Because probation does not constitute confinement, however, Rogers’s conviction fell outside the tenyear time limit of Rule 609(b), and its admission for impeachment purposes was therefore error. But given the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, we conclude the error was harmless and affirm his convictions.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 4, 2008 03:08 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions