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Long v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 11, 2019

Haile S. Long, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Delaware Circuit Court The Honorable Kimberly S. Dowling, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 18C02-1611-F2-18

          Attorney for Appellant Dylan A. Vigh Law Offices of Dylan A. Vigh, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Ellen H. Meilaender Supervising Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Pyle, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Haile Long ("Long") appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, of eight drug related offenses. He argues that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial. Specifically, he contends that the trial court's act of asking the public not to enter and exit the courtroom in the middle of testimony equated to a total exclusion of members of the public. Concluding that there was no Sixth Amendment violation, we affirm the trial court.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Issue

         Whether Long's Sixth Amendment right to a public trial was violated.

         Facts

         [¶3] In 2016, the Muncie Narcotics Unit ("MNU") conducted an investigation of Long using a confidential informant and four controlled drug buys. All of the controlled buys occurred at Long's auto business. After the fourth controlled buy, the MNU applied for, and was granted, a search warrant for Long's auto business.

         [¶4] Based upon the controlled buys and what was recovered from the search, the State charged Long with the following: Level 2 felony dealing cocaine; Level 2 felony dealing a narcotic drug; three counts of Level 3 felony dealing cocaine; Level 5 felony dealing a Schedule IV controlled substance; Level 6 felony maintaining a common nuisance; and Class A misdemeanor dealing marijuana.

         [¶5] Long's jury trial began in May of 2018 and lasted three days. At the start of the second day of trial, the trial court noted that it had "put a sign on the door asking people not to enter and exit in the middle of testimony," explaining that it was "happening a lot yesterday and it was very distracting." (Tr. Vol. II at 130). The trial court also asked counsel for both sides to "police your own to the best of your ability" and asked the prosecutor's staff to "try not to leave in the middle of testimony." (Tr. Vol. II at 130). Long did not object or otherwise voice any concerns about this.

         [¶6] Shortly after the first witness began testifying on the second day, spectators entered the courtroom. The trial court interrupted the examination, stating, "[s]ir, sir there's a sign on the door that there's not going to be people entering and exiting during court, all right. So you guys can come in and have a seat but you stay until there's a break. I don't want people coming in and out during testimony ...


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