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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Supreme Court will hear appeal of Hammond man convicted of murder "

Ruth Ann Krause of the Gary Post-Tribune reports on the upcoming Supreme Court oral argument next week in Ernesto Ramirez v. State of Indiana. Some quotes from the story:

During Ramirez’ trial last year, one of the jurors wrote a note to the judge indicating that one of her neighbors heard gunshots and sounds of someone running while the juror was across the street at a restaurant. A neighbor called the juror on her cell phone and also informed police that the individual was a juror. The neighbor saw the car pull into the parking lot, drive around and leave. The juror also called police while she was at the restaurant, and one of the individuals with her noticed a car in the parking lot, which was there for about 20 minutes without anyone getting out.

The judge questioned the juror, who said she had made other jurors aware of the issue. The juror told other jurors she has a young child living with her and was scared. The juror told other jurors that police who investigated gunshots and a possible break-in had told her to get off the jury. The judge released the juror, then questioned the remaining panel members individually.

Defense attorney John Cantrell, who sought a mistrial, argued that extraneous information brought to the jury by the excused juror contaminated the panel because of the high likelihood in the gang-related prosecution that jurors would believe the gunshots and attempted break-in were somehow related to the defendant.

In his filing, Gonzalez noted that the appeals court failed to take into consideration a 1990 Indiana Supreme Court decision, Kelly v. State, which provides the authority for granting a new trial when improper extraneous influences brought by a juror to the other jurors make it “highly probable” their impartiality was compromised.

Here is the now-vacated NFP Court of Appeals opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 26, 2013 03:47 PM
Posted to Indiana Courts