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Indiana Court Of Appeals: Criminal Cases Of Note (Oct. 26-30, 2009)
Posted in Litigation

In Miller v. State, the Indiana Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 opinion, reversed Miller’s conviction for armed robbery, finding that the trial court erred when it allowed the State to us as a demonstrative aid in closing argument a YouTube video that had been “created for school administrators to see ‘how easy it was to conceal a weapon inside clothing.’”  The video was not admitted into evidence and was not part of the record on appeal.  The Court observed that the video did not reflect the facts of Miller’s case and “presumably could not have been properly admitted into evidence in light of its conceded irrelevance and obviously prejudicial effect."  Judge Barnes concurred stating he was convinced the video “was the proverbial evidentiary harpoon that skewed the ability of the jury to fairly and impartially decide the case.”  Chief Judge Baker dissented stating that he could not “conclude that the video was so inflammatory that it would have altered the way in which the jury viewed Miller and the case as a whole, and given that the video was irrelevant to Miller’s defense, I can only conclude that the trial court’s decision to permit the State to show the video to the jury was harmless error.”

In State v. Schmitt, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court did not err when it dismissed the charges against the defendant as a sanction for the State’s continued discovery violations.  The Court observed that “it appears that the trial court has been dealing with similar discovery disputes between the State and Schmitt’s counsel in more than just the instant case,” and that the State had been warned by the trial court that its failure to respond to the court’s order would be considered “bad faith.”  The Court further noted that the misdemeanor charges had been pending for almost one year on the date they were dismissed.

In A.K. v. State, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that a minor defendant cannot consent to a hearing date and then move to dismiss the charges for failure to hold a timely hearing.  The minor defendant had moved to dismiss the charges against him under Indiana Code § 31-37-11-2(b) because a hearing was not commenced within sixty days of the filing of the petition.  The Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion, observing that “the juvenile code does not mandate dismissal of the charges when the sixty-day deadline is not met.”  The Court further observed that the setting for the hearing was made with the defendant’s agreement.  The Court drew an analogy to the adult criminal setting where speedy trial rights are deemed waived when the trial date is set beyond the designated time period and the defendant fails to object.

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