Court Case No. 49G01-1609-F3-36200
LORETTA H. RUSH CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIANA
matter has come before the Indiana Supreme Court on a
petition to transfer jurisdiction, filed pursuant to Indiana
Appellate Rules 56(B) and 57, following the issuance of a
decision by the Court of Appeals. The Court has reviewed the
decision of the Court of Appeals, and the submitted record on
appeal, all briefs filed in the Court of Appeals, and all
materials filed in connection with the request to transfer
jurisdiction have been made available to the Court for
review. Each participating member has had the opportunity to
voice that Justice's views on the case in conference with
the other Justices, and each participating member of the
Court has voted on the petition.
duly advised, the Court DENIES the petition to transfer. Done
at Indianapolis, Indiana, on _10/3/2019
J., Slaughter, J., and Goff, J., vote to deny transfer.
David, J., dissents from the denial of transfer
separate opinion in which Rush, C.J., joins.
years ago, we reaffirmed the principle that" [e]very
accused has a constitutionally protected right to an
impartial jury." Ramirez v. State, 7 N.E.3d
933, 934 (Ind. 2014). Today, we are confronted with the rare
case in which both the State and Defendant agreed the right
to an impartial jury was imperiled based on unauthorized
contact between a juror and a member of the Defendant's
family. After assessing the situation, the trial court denied
a joint request for a mistrial and moved forward with the
proceedings. The question pending transfer before our Court
is whether the trial court erred when it took this action.
Answering that question in the affirmative, I would find that
the trial court acted contrary to our Court's precedent
in Ramirez v. State when it failed to order a
mistrial. Therefore, I respectfully dissent from the denial
of transfer in this case.
record before us indicates a juror ("Juror 11") was
approached by a family member of the Defendant during a
break. Juror 11 recounted:
I was coming into the security and a gentleman just said, he
said, "Oh, you're a juror." I said, "Yeah.
Are you?" "No." He said, "My uncle's
the Defendant," and then he kind of under his breath
just said, "self-defense (inaudible)." Like
something to that effect, kind of….
(Tr. Vol. 2 at 25.) When the court asked the juror if he
could be "fair and impartial in this case," he
answered, "Yes." (Id.)
11 was then asked if he talked to any of the other jurors
about this incident. The juror stated:
Yeah, I did tell the other jurors that I might be dispensed
because someone came up and spoke to me, and then I said,
"It wasn't anything bad," and then they're
like, "No, we don't want to hear it." I'm
like, "No, that's not what I'm saying." I
just said, "It wasn't - I don't want anybody to
be scared." (Id. at 26.) Based on this
information, the State believed a mistrial was warranted
because "there[ was] going to be something else in the
jury room ...