At the law office of Jacob Rigney, we pride ourselves on making complicated legal issues simple. As such, we once again present our recurring segment called "one sentence case law review," where we read an entire appellate opinion and reduce it to one sentence of law. Here we go (again on our own) for all you Whitesnake fans.
Bell v. State (8 pages)
A Defendant can't stipulate to the admission of evidence and then claim on appeal that it was unreliable; and a confession is almost always going to be admissible absent evidence of police misconduct.
Isom v. State (30 pages)
The Indiana Supreme Court wins this round. I can't summarize this one accurately in one sentence. Essentially, the death penalty is appropriate for a man who killed his wife and two step-children. The Court's instruction that simply required the jury to find that the aggravating factors (multiple killings) outweighed the mitigating factors (difficult childhood, stress, mental illness, several others) was appropriate, and a finding that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors beyond a reasonable doubt is not required by the U.S. Constitution. The prosecutor's calls to give him the death penalty because of the nature of his crimes was misconduct, but it was harmless. The Defendant's relatives' pleas for him to stop shooting were admissible as non-testimonial hearsay because they were excited utterances made in the course of the emergency as it was happening. The Trial Court's decision to deny the Defendant's motions to strike jurors for cause was not an abuse of discretion where the jurors initially indicated opinions contrary to the law, but subsequently agreed to follow the law after discussing it with the Court and attorneys during voir dire. Finally, the Court's refusal to tender a voluntary manslaughter instruction to the jury was appropriate since there was no evidence presented that any sudden heat existed. Whew, sorry.
Myers v. State (67 pages)
The Defendant's numerous complaints about the performance of his trial counsel are unavailing and he did not receive ineffective assistance, despite the fact that his attorney was subsequently disciplined for improper conduct during the trial; and no alleged prosecutorial misconduct was proven, as is required when seeking post-conviction relief.
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