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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Ind. Decisions - "Indiana Supreme Court upholds death sentence for Roy Lee Ward"

The Supreme Court's decision today in the case of Roy Lee Ward v. State (see ILB summary here) is the subject of a story this afternoon in the Evansville Courier & Press. From the story:

Ward's attorney, Steven Ripstra, argued that the Clay County jurors should have been questioned individually, with other potential jurors out of the room, so that one person's answers wouldn't be overheard and influence the next person's.

That is how the two-day jury selection process started, Ripstra has said, but by the end of the process, the 120 prospective jurors were lumped into groups of 10 to 20, he said. That prevented Ward from getting a fair retrial, Ripstra contended.

Ripstra and Ward's other attorney, Lorinda Meier Youngcourt, theorized that if jury selection had continued longer, different jurors might have been selected, and they might have decided on a different sentence.

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Brent E. Dickson wrote the court's ruling, which was released today.

"A trial court has broad discretionary power to regulate the form and substance of voir dire," Dickson wrote. "Individually sequestered voir dire is not mandated in any case under Indiana law, including capital cases, absent highly unusual or potentially damaging circumstances. ... The defendant has not established reversible error in the trial court's modification of the format for questioning potential jurors in this case."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 7, 2009 12:39 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions