Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the post-conviction court denying Appellant’s petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his trial and appellate counsel were ineffective, holding that, although counsel made some mistakes, counsel’s performance was not deficient. Appellant was convicted of murdering two children and arson. The convictions were affirmed on appeal. Thereafter, Appellant sought post-conviction relief, alleging multiple instances of ineffective assistance by trial and appellate counsel. The trial court denied the petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) counsel’s mistakes did not rise to the level of deficient performance pursuant to Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984); and (2) further, Appellant had not demonstrated that there was a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. View "Weisheit v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of four counts of felony child molesting, holding that the attenuation doctrine can apply under the Indiana Constitution and that Defendant’s statements to law enforcement constituted admissible evidence against him. Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained from an FBI search and subsequent police interviews, alleging that he had been illegally detained and searched. The trial court suppressed evidence obtained from searching Defendant’s computer and electronic equipment, finding that Defendant’s consent to the search was invalid but denied suppression of Defendant’s statements to law enforcement officers, concluding that they were sufficiently attenuated from the illegal search. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s convictions, holding that the trial court erred in admitting Defendant’s confessions to the officers, ultimately rejecting the attenuation doctrine for Indiana. The Supreme Court vacated the Court of Appeals opinion and affirmed, holding (1) the Indiana Constitution embraces the attenuation doctrine; and (2) Defendant’s statements to law enforcement were sufficiently attenuated from the illegal search so as to be purged from the original taint and were thus admissible at trial. View "Wright v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court held that the requirement set forth in Pirtle v. State, 323 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 1975), that an advisement of rights be given prior to police obtaining consent to a search from a person in custody does not extend to drug recognition exams (DRE). At issue was whether police are required to advise a person in custody of his or her right to consult with counsel before obtaining consent to perform the DRE exam. The Court of Appeals concluded that without a Pirtle warning, evidence obtained through a DRE is inadmissible. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that an advisement is not necessary before police can obtain a person’s valid consent to a DRE. View "Dycus v. State" on Justia Law

by
At issue was what, if any, ability a trial court has to resentence a criminal defendant on felonies underlying a criminal gang enhancement, see Ind. Code 35-50-2-15, when an appellate court has reversed that enhancement and remanded to the trial court. Defendant was found guilty by a jury of committing several criminal offenses in connection with a criminal gang. In applying the criminal gang enhancement statute, the trial court increased Defendant’s overall sentence by thirty years. The Court of Appeals reversed the enhancement. The State and Defendant disputed here the extent of the trial court’s sentencing authority on remand. The Supreme Court held that the criminal gang enhancement statute unambiguously increases the punishment for all the felonies that underlie the enhancement and that vacating such an enhancement disturbs the punishment originally imposed. Therefore, when an appellate court reverses a criminal gang enhancement, on remand, the trial court must resentence a defendant on all surviving underlying felonies. View "Jackson v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for Level 1 felony child molestation, holding that proof of the slightest penetration of the sex organ, including penetration of the external genitalia, is sufficient to demonstrate a person performed “other sexual misconduct” with a child under Ind. Code 35-42-4-3. Section 35-42-4-3 prohibits a person from knowingly or intentionally performing sexual intercourse or other sexual misconduct with a child under fourteen years of age. The offense is a Level 1 felony if committed by a person who is at least twenty-one years old. “Other sexual misconduct” includes “an act involving…the penetration of the sex organ or anus of a person by an object.” On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to prove “penetration” for purposes of section 35-42-4-3 defining other sexual misconduct. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction, holding that the evidence demonstrated that Defendant committed other sexual misconduct with a child. View "Boggs v. State" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether multiple felony convictions are authorized by Ind. Code 35-44.1-3-1 where a single act of resisting law enforcement while operating a vehicle causes the death of one person and serious bodily injuries to two other people. Defendant was convicted of multiple counts of felony resisting law enforcement. The felony convictions varied in levels - one conviction was a level three felony while two others were level five felonies. The Supreme Court reversed on two level five felony resisting law enforcement convictions and affirmed as to the remaining convictions, holding that Indiana’s resisting law enforcement statute, section 35-44.1-3-1, authorizes only one felony conviction - the highest chargeable offense - where a single act of resisting causes death and serious bodily injury. View "Edmonds v. State" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether a defendant can be convicted of multiple felony resisting law enforcement charges when those charges stem from a single incident of resisting. Defendant pleaded guilty to three felony counts of resisting law enforcement and operating a vehicle with methamphetamine in his blood causing serious boldly injury. On appeal, Defendant argued that Indiana’s resisting law enforcement statute, Ind. Code 35-44.1-3-1, authorizes only one conviction for each act of resisting, and therefore, the trial court erred when it entered three convictions and sentences against him. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that section 35-44.1-3-1 authorizes only one conviction for felony resisting law enforcement where the defendant engages in a single act of resisting while operating a vehicle that causes multiple deaths. View "Paquette v. State" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the lower courts dismissing Defendant’s charge of voluntary manslaughter. In dismissing the charge, both of the lower courts found (1) the Criminal Rule 4(C) period within which to bring Defendant to trial had expired, and the delays in bringing him to trial were not attributable to Defendant; and (2) the prosecutorial misconduct in this case required dismissal. The Supreme Court remanded for the trial court to hold a hearing or proceed to trial, holding (1) the delays associated with Defendant’s interlocutory appeal and motion for change of judge were attributable to Defendant, and therefore, he was not entitled to a discharge pursuant to Rule 4(C); and (2) State v. Taylor, 49 N.E.3d 1019 (Ind. 2016), applies in this case, and outright dismissal is not the appropriate remedy for the State’s misconduct. View "State v. Larkin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the parts of the opinion of the court of appeals that addressed and rejected J.R.’s challenge to a pat-down search and remanded to the juvenile court to vacate the delinquency adjudication for carrying a handgun without a license (CHWOL) and affirmed the delinquency adjudication for dangerous possession of a firearm, as all parties agreed that double jeopardy principles precluded J.R.’s dual adjudications. The juvenile court found sixteen-year-old J.R. delinquent for committing acts that would be dangerous possession of a firearm and CHWOL, had they been committed by an adult. On appeal, J.R. argued that a pat-down search violated his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches. The court of appeals concluded that the pat-down search was constitutional but that J.R.’s adjudication for CHWOL should be vacated on double jeopardy grounds. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "J.R. v. State" on Justia Law

by
The trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s incriminating statements made in a motel room during the course of a custodial interrogation without an electronic recording of those statements. Defendant was charged with and convicted of several drug crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that two post-Miranda self-incriminating statements he made to officers in a motel room should not have been admitted into evidence because no electronic recording of the statements was made available at trial, as required by Ind. R. Evid. 617. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a motel room, as used by law enforcement in this case to carry out an undercover investigation and to search a suspect incident to his arrest, is not a place of detention as defined by Rule 617. View "Fansler v. State" on Justia Law