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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today

In Kevin L. Hampton v. State of Indiana, an 18-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

We affirm the denial of the defendant's post-conviction claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel but hold that an instruction on the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt does not obviate the necessity, where the conduct of the defendant constituting the com-mission of a charged offense is proven exclusively by circumstantial evidence, of an additional jury instruction advising the jury that proof by circumstantial evidence must be so conclusive and sure as to exclude every reasonable theory of innocence. * * *

The Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief, believing that the "instruction on proof beyond a reasonable doubt . . . nicely covered the issue and rendered harmless any potential error" in refusing the tendered instruction. Hampton v. State, 936 N.E.2d 1274, 1276–77 (Ind. Ct. App. 2010). Although we ultimately reject the defendant's claim of post-conviction court error, we granted transfer to provide clarification for the bench and bar regarding the "reasonable theory of innocence" instruction because we disagree with the Court of Appeals that the giving of a conventional reasonable doubt instruction renders unnecessary the giving of the "reasonable theory of innocence" instruction. [ILB emphasis added]

The COA opinion here was issued Nov. 16, 2010.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 14, 2012 04:30 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions