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Monday, April 18, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 today (and 2 NFP)

For publication opinions today (2):

James Stewart v. State of Indiana - This 27-page opinion by Judge Kirsch involves the following issues: I. Whether Stewart's convictions for felony murder and robbery violated double jeopardy principles; II. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted certain evidence and excluded other evidence under the rules of hearsay; III. Whether Stewart's 425-year sentence violated equal protection considerations and was fundamentally unfair because it was the functional equivalent of life without parole and he did not receive the procedural safeguards and protections of the life without parole (“LWOP”) statute; IV. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it admitted certain crime scene and autopsy photographs of the victims; and V. Whether sufficient evidence was presented to support Stewart's convictions. The opinion vacates in part and affirms in part. [ILB - Indy6 News already has a story on this ruling.]

In Gregory E. Staten v. State of Indiana , a 16-page, 2-1 opinion of which the last 8-pages are a dissent, Judge Crone writes:

[T]he State concedes that, as charged, the evidence at trial was insufficient to prove that Staten committed the Class C infraction. Therefore, we vacate the trial court's finding that Staten committed the Class C traffic infraction as well as the related $5 fine. * * *

Staten contends that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting his blood alcohol test results obtained from the chemical blood test following the traffic stop. Specifically, Staten argues that, despite his consent to submit to a chemical test, the blood alcohol test results obtained from the chemical blood test were inadmissible because the traffic stop was illegal. * * *

Here, the record clearly demonstrates that Staten disobeyed the posted stop sign. * * * Accordingly, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the blood alcohol test results obtained from the chemical blood test following the traffic stop. * * *

Staten does not dispute that he was intoxicated at the time of the traffic stop, but argues that the State did not prove the element of endangerment. * * *

Here, Staten's intoxication clearly resulted in unsafe driving practices. Trooper Greer testified that while driving approximately 100 yards behind Staten, he saw Staten drive his vehicle left of center line and through a 3-way stop sign without stopping or slowing down. We conclude that Trooper Greer's testimony regarding Staten's unlawful and unsafe driving is sufficient to prove that he was operating a vehicle in a manner that could endanger the public, the police, or himself. * * *

KIRSCH, J., concurs.
CRONE, J., concurs in part and dissents in part with opinion.[that begins, as p. 9 of 16] The State concedes that it failed to prove that Staten committed the class C traffic infraction with which he was charged, and I concur in the majority's decision to vacate the trial court's finding on that count. I respectfully disagree, however, with the majority's conclusions that (1) the traffic stop was valid and (2) the State presented sufficient evidence to sustain Staten's conviction for class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated (“OWI”).

NFP civil opinions today (0):

NFP criminal opinions today (2):

Marlan Bonds v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Tommy L. Borders v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 18, 2011 12:36 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions