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Friday, May 14, 2010

Ind. Decisions - One Indiana opinion issued today by 7th Circuit

In U.S. v. Taylor (SD Ind., Barker), an 11-page opinion, Judge Cudahy writes:

In 2009, Darryl Taylor was convicted of armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and two separate counts of brandishing a short-barreled shotgun in relation to two crimes of violence. He was sentenced to 444 months’ imprisonment. In the present appeal, Mr. Taylor contends that the district court committed reversible error in denying his offering of the testimony of one Dale Serie. Mr. Serie served as a pastor on Sundays at the Volunteers of America, which is a halfway house where Mr. Taylor resided pending trial. The defendant, expressing a desire to take the stand in his own defense, wished to offer Mr. Serie’s testimony as to his reputation for truthfulness. This was a curious goal, since the defendant at trial argued that he had lied in his earlier confession to the police. Presumably, then, evidence of his renown for veracity would bolster the prosecution’s case. Nevertheless, Mr. Taylor represented to the court that Mr. Serie’s testimony would go to his honesty in taking the stand, rather than to statements he made at the time of the offense. The district court then conditioned Mr. Serie’s taking the stand on the defendant’s actually testifying. Ultimately, the defendant elected not to testify and so the defense rested without the benefit of Mr. Serie’s testimony. We find no error in the district court’s evidentiary ruling. Since Mr. Serie’s testimony was to be limited to bolstering the defendant’s own testimony, the former was irrelevant in the absence of the latter. This fact was correctly noted by the district court. Even if the court had erred in so ruling, however, a veritable mountain of evidence as to the defendant’s guilt rendered any such error harmless. For these reasons and the reasons that follow, we affirm the judgment of the district court.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 14, 2010 02:06 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions