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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 opinion(s) today (and 5 NFP memorandum decision(s))

For publication opinions today (1):

In Danny Sims v. Andrew Pappas and Melissa Pappas, a 16-page opinion, Sr. Judge Shepard writes:

During a trial over damages caused by a drunk driver, the defendant acknowledged his intoxication and responsibility for the collision. He objected to admitting evidence about two decades-old convictions for alcohol-related offenses. The objection was overruled and the jury ultimately returned a verdict, mostly for compensatory damages.

While we do not embrace his proposal that prior convictions should be barred outright as they mostly would be in a criminal trial, we conclude that in this case they neither proved nor disproved any facts that were central to the main questions the jury decided – compensatory damages and loss of consortium. As they were not relevant to these issues and unfairly prejudicial (though probably not to the question of punitive damages), we reverse and order a new trial. * * *

The trial court erroneously admitted evidence of Sims’ prior alcohol-related convictions from 1983 and 1996, and the error was not harmless. The trial court’s judgment entered on the jury verdict is reversed and this cause is remanded for retrial.

Riley, J., concurs.
Altice, J., dissenting with separate opinion. [that begins, at p. 13] I agree with the majority’s conclusion that the ten-year limit set out in Ind. Evidence Rule 609 does not apply in this context. I cannot agree, however, with the majority’s ultimate conclusion, based on an Ind. Evidence Rule 403 analysis, that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence of Sims’s 1983 and 1996 prior alcohol-related offenses. * * *

Though relevant to the issue of punitive damages, the prior convictions’ remoteness in time does tend to diminish their probative value. In my mind, however, this should go to the weight of the evidence rather than its admissibility, and I cannot say that the trial court abused its discretion in this regard. See Spencer v. State, 703 N.E.2d 1053, 1056 (Ind. 1999) (even though remote crimes had low probative value and the Court was “inclined to think this evidence should not have been admitted”, the Court found no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s admission of the evidence). Accordingly, I respectfully dissent.

NFP civil decisions today (0):

NFP criminal decisions today (5):

Sam Milligan v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

T.G. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Thomas King v. State of Indiana

Fronse W. Smith, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Dennis Linderman v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 13, 2016 11:59 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions