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Dixson v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 17, 2014

JOSEPH DIXSON, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Rebekah Pierson-Treacy, Judge. The Honorable Shatrese M. Flowers, Commissioner. Cause No. 49F19-1311-CM-072873.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: JOEL M. SCHUMM, Appellate Clinic, IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law; JUSTIN M. WISER, Certified Legal Intern, Appellate Clinic, IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: GREGORY F. ZOELLER, Attorney General of Indiana; LARRY D. ALLEN, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, Indiana.

VAIDIK, Chief Judge. BAKER, J., and RILEY, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 837

VAIDIK, Chief Judge

Case Summary

Joseph Dixson was convicted of Class A misdemeanor battery after a tussle with a security officer. Dixson now appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on self-defense at his trial. Because this case does not involve deadly force, we conclude that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that, among other things, Dixson had to show that he had a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm in order to prevail on his self-defense claim. We find the error to be harmless, however, and we therefore affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

In November 2013 Dixson was an inmate at the Duvall Residential Center (Duvall), a work-release facility operated by Marion County Community Corrections. Faith Hoosier, a Duvall security guard, was monitoring the cafeteria one evening when Dixson entered.

Cafeteria rules require Duvall inmates to use a designated entrance door and show identification to receive a meal ticket. Tr. p. 51. When Dixson entered the cafeteria through the exit door, Hoosier approached him and told him that he needed to re-enter through the designated entrance door. Id. at 53-54. Dixson told Hoosier that he was ordering a " hot cart," which is different from the normal meal that most Duvall inmates receive. Id. at 54. An inmate ordering a hot cart must fill out a form at the serving line, pay for the meal in advance, and return to pick it up later in the evening. Id. Hoosier told Dixson that regardless of what meal he planned to eat, he needed to exit the cafeteria and re-enter through the designated entrance door. Id. at 55.

Dixson became " very confrontational, cursing, very rude, and insolent, and proceeded to go right past [Hoosier] . . . ." Id. Because Dixson did not comply with Hoosier's order, she repeated it, telling him " you cannot go through [the exit] door, you

Page 838

need to go out and around, follow this procedure that everyone else is following, then you can order your hot cart." Id. As a Duvall employee, Hoosier was permitted to use force " to respond to a resistant protective person" after a warning. Id. at 44. Because Dixson continued to disregard Hoosier's commands, she warned him that she would respond with force, saying, " I'm going to count to three [], and then I'm going to put my hands on you." Id. at 56. When Dixson still did not comply, Hoosier grabbed his forearm in an attempt to " physically remove him from the [cafeteria] . . . ." Id. at 58.

Dixson then " started to be combative" and began shoving Hoosier. Id. at 59. Hoosier fell to the ground. Id. at 60. The fall hurt Hoosier; she heard her ankle " snap" and " pop." Id. at 61. When she got back up, she was able to remove Dixson from the cafeteria without further incident. Id. Hoosier later felt " pretty intense" pain in her ankle. Id. Hoosier was later diagnosed with an ankle sprain that required physical therapy. Id. at 62.

The State charged Dixson with Class A misdemeanor battery. Dixson claimed self-defense at his jury trial. At the close of evidence, the State tendered four self-defense instructions. Defense ...


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