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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 10 NFP)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Ernesto Gutierrez v. State of Indiana, a 9-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:

Appellant-defendant Ernesto Gutierrez appeals his convictions for two counts of Child Molesting, a class A felony. Specifically, Gutierrez contends that his convictions must be reversed because the trial court improperly admitted vouching testimony from two of the State’s witnesses as to whether the victim was telling the truth. Gutierrez also claims that the deputy prosecutor engaged in misconduct by eliciting the improper vouching testimony and commenting about that testimony during closing argument. Concluding that the trial court erred in admitting improper vouching testimony that invaded the province of the jury and prejudiced Gutierrez’s substantial rights, we reverse and remand for a new trial. * * *

When examining the exchange between the deputy prosecutor and Hasselman, it is readily apparent that the provisions of Indiana Evidence Rule 704(b) were violated, which resulted in an invasion of the province of the jury to judge the credibility of the witnesses. As noted above, Hasselman testified that she “absolutely” believed M.L.’s testimony. And the deputy prosecutor contemporaneously inserted his own opinion that he believed M.L. Therefore, the admission of Hasselman’s testimony amounted to fundamental error.

Notwithstanding the prohibitions regarding the admission of vouching testimony, the trial court allowed such testimony to be shared with the jury. And, to compound matters, the deputy prosecutor improperly told the jury that he believed M.L.’s testimony. Thus, we are compelled to reverse Gutierrez’s convictions and order a new trial free of prohibited matters.

The judgment of the trial court is reversed and this cause is remanded for a new trial.

NFP civil opinions today (4):

In the Matter of the Adoption of M.S.T.; R.P.M.T. v. C.K. and J.P. (NFP)

Carol Showalter v. Donald Showalter (NFP)

Brent Goodman v. GMH Snyder Farms, Inc. (NFP)

Chuck W. Adams v. Mauro Chavez, M.D., Prison Health Services, Gil Kaufman, Craig Underwood, Dean Reiger (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (6):

LaDawn D. Johnson v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Scott W. Bishop v. State of Indiana (NFP)

James Ingram v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Philip Gregory Yeary v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Jeremy L. Hopkins v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Michael Dunfee v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 22, 2012 01:12 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions