Clark v. Duckworth, No. 89-3497

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore CUMMINGS, CUDAHY and KANNE; CUDAHY; KERRIGAN; KERRIGAN; KERRIGAN
Citation906 F.2d 1174
PartiesCharles CLARK, Petitioner-Appellee, v. Jack R. DUCKWORTH and Indiana Attorney General, Respondents-Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 89-3497
Decision Date13 July 1990

Page 1174

906 F.2d 1174
Charles CLARK, Petitioner-Appellee,
v.
Jack R. DUCKWORTH and Indiana
Attorney General, Respondents-Appellants.
No. 89-3497.
United States Court of Appeals,
Seventh Circuit.
Argued April 20, 1990.
Decided July 13, 1990.

Page 1175

Kathryn Butler O'Neall, O'Neall & O'Neall, Remington, Ind., for petitioner-appellee.

David A. Nowak, Dist. Atty. Gen., Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, Ind., for respondents-appellants.

Before CUMMINGS, CUDAHY and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

CUDAHY, Circuit Judge.

A jury convicted Charles Clark of attempted rape, battery and intimidation in connection with the rape and beating of a

Page 1176

woman in Indiana. After filing several post-trial motions and unsuccessful appeals to Indiana state courts, Clark petitioned a federal district court for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. That court determined that Clark's constitutional rights had been violated at trial and therefore granted his petition subject to a new trial. Jack R. Duckworth, the Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City, Indiana, appeals that decision to us. We now vacate and remand.

I.

The facts supporting the jury's conviction of Clark are detailed in Clark v. State, 447 N.E.2d 1076 (Ind.1983). They need not detain us, however, for we are concerned primarily with constitutional errors that occurred at trial. We pause here only to note that the jury apparently believed that Charles Clark forced Kathy Tompkins into a barn, struck her and attempted to rape her. The jury was not asked to consider the case of Clark's accomplice in this crime, Terry Ray Isaacs, because he had earlier pleaded guilty to rape. But the jury did become acquainted with Isaacs when the prosecutor in Clark's trial called Isaacs to the stand to testify to the facts surrounding the crime. In this appeal, we must address the substance of Isaacs's testimony to the jury, for it is this testimony that resulted in a violation of Clark's constitutional rights.

At first, attorneys for the state and the defendant disagreed about the propriety of calling Isaacs to the stand. To resolve this dispute--and to persuade the court that the testimony should be admitted--the prosecution offered to establish the scope of its direct examination of Isaacs outside the presence of the jury. After the jury had been excused, the prosecutor asked Isaacs to explain to the court how he would testify. Isaacs responded: "Uh, I--I can't, because I've been threatened, and uh, well on two different occasions I've been threatened, and I just can't on account of my life is in jeopardy." Memorandum and Order at 14 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 31, 1989) (quoting Record at 608-22). Essentially, Isaacs told the court that he could not testify because two inmates at the prison threatened to kill him if he "snitched" about the case. At this point, Clark's lawyer vigorously objected to the prosecutor's request to put Isaacs on the stand; he claimed that he would be unable effectively to cross-examine Isaacs if Isaacs refused to answer any questions regarding the case. Still, the trial judge allowed the state to call Isaacs to the stand but warned the prosecutor to confine his questions to whether Isaacs would testify. The court expressly confirmed that neither the prosecutor nor Isaacs could refer to the alleged threats. Id. at 18-19.

Upon the jury's return, the following colloquy took place in the courtroom:

Q. [Prosecutor] Please state your name for the record.

A. Terry Ray Isaacs.

Q. Where are you presently living?

A. Michigan City State Prison.

Q. Are you serving a sentence there?

A. Yes sir, I am.

Q. For what?

A. For rape.

Q. Uh, did you plead guilty to the charge?

A. Yes sir.

Q. And the rape of whom?

A. Kathy Tompkins.

Q. Is there anything you want to tell this jury about the circumstances surrounding that?

A. Uh, nothing that I'm--that I've been threatened and I can't testify.

MR. SHAW: Your Honor, I'm going to object and ask that answer be stricken the answer is either yes or no.

JUDGE KERRIGAN: The, uh --.

MR. SHAW: We've been through this.

JUDGE KERRIGAN: It'll be stricken, grant the objection and strike the answer.

MR. URDAL: No further questions.

MR. SHAW: No questions.

QUESTION OF TERRY RAY ISAACS BY JUDGE KERRIGAN:

Q. You understand that your testimony could not incriminate yourself, you have--there's nothing pending against you and you could be under contempt of

Page 1177

Court for failure to answer any proper question of the Prosecutor, do you understand that?

A. Yes. I'm asking you for your protection of these threats.

JUDGE KERRIGAN: All right. You can step aside.

MR. SHAW: Your Honor, I would ask--.

JUDGE KERRIGAN: Any remark about threats will be disregarded by the jury.

Id. (emphasis supplied).

II.

The statements made at Clark's trial by Isaacs--and then reinforced by the trial judge in his "curative" instruction to the jury--clearly violated Clark's Fourteenth Amendment right to a fair trial free from prejudicial and irrelevant evidence as outlined in Dudley v. Duckworth, 854 F.2d 967 (7th Cir.1988), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 109 S.Ct. 1655, 104 L.Ed.2d 169 (1989). In Dudley, a case remarkably similar to this one, a codefendant told the court that he feared testifying against the defendant because he had received phone calls--presumably made to dissuade him from testifying--threatening harm to his girlfriend, mother and aunt. Counsel for the defendant objected, noting that the testimony about threats was highly prejudicial and not probative in light of the fact that the prosecution did not present any evidence linking the telephone threats to the defendant. Still, the trial judge denied counsel's motions to strike the testimony and to declare a mistrial. After the presentation of evidence, the jury convicted Dudley of aiding a bank robbery. On appeal, we reversed the conviction, reasoning that the codefendant's testimony concerning threats unfairly prejudiced the defendant's case: "the trial court's ruling allowing the testimony to stand 'is of such magnitude that the result is a denial of fundamental fairness.' United States ex rel. Palmer v. DeRobertis, 738 F.2d 168, 170 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 924 [105 S.Ct. 306, 83 L.Ed.2d 241] (1984)." Dudley, 854 F.2d at 972. 1

Clark's case is similar: the state trial judge failed to take appropriate action after a codefendant, who had already pleaded guilty to the same crime, told the jury that he had received threats to prevent him from testifying. This testimony may have led the jury to...

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  • In re Sulfuric Acid Antitrust Litig..This Document Relates To: All Related Actions., MDL Docket No. 1536.Case No. 03 C 4576.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • September 24, 2010
    ...Amer. Floral Services, Inc. v. Florists' Transworld Delivery Assoc., 633 F.Supp. 201 (N.D.Ill.1986); see also See Market Force, 906 F.2d at 1174 (fact that two companies were mutually aware of each other's policies, combined with hostile comments made about a plaintiff, was insufficient to ......
  • Clark v. Duckworth, Civ. No. S 89-270.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • August 12, 1991
    ...now comply with the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit in the reported decision of Clark v. Duckworth, 906 F.2d 1174 (7th Cir.1990). Specifically, Part IV of Judge Cudahy's opinion at pages 1178-79 This conclusion, however, should not be read to suggest th......
  • In re Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc., Cheese Antitrust Litig., Master File No. 9 CR 3690
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • August 18, 2014
    ...case.”). This is particularly true where a defendant can offer an independent business justification for its conduct. Market Force Inc., 906 F.2d at 1174 (explaining that “a defendant is entitled to summary judgment when it provides a plausible and justifiable alternative interpretation of ......
  • Reserve Supply Corp. v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., OWENS-CORNING
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 4, 1992
    ...a plausible and justifiable alternative interpretation of its conduct that rebuts the alleged conspiracy.' " Market Page 55 Force, 906 F.2d at 1174 (quoting City of Long Beach v. Standard Oil Co., 872 F.2d 1401, 1406 (9th Cir.1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1076, 110 S.Ct. 1126, 107 L.Ed.2d 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • In re Sulfuric Acid Antitrust Litig..This Document Relates To: All Related Actions., MDL Docket No. 1536.Case No. 03 C 4576.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • September 24, 2010
    ...Amer. Floral Services, Inc. v. Florists' Transworld Delivery Assoc., 633 F.Supp. 201 (N.D.Ill.1986); see also See Market Force, 906 F.2d at 1174 (fact that two companies were mutually aware of each other's policies, combined with hostile comments made about a plaintiff, was insufficient to ......
  • Clark v. Duckworth, Civ. No. S 89-270.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • August 12, 1991
    ...now comply with the mandate of the United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit in the reported decision of Clark v. Duckworth, 906 F.2d 1174 (7th Cir.1990). Specifically, Part IV of Judge Cudahy's opinion at pages 1178-79 This conclusion, however, should not be read to suggest th......
  • In re Dairy Farmers of Am., Inc., Cheese Antitrust Litig., Master File No. 9 CR 3690
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • August 18, 2014
    ...case.”). This is particularly true where a defendant can offer an independent business justification for its conduct. Market Force Inc., 906 F.2d at 1174 (explaining that “a defendant is entitled to summary judgment when it provides a plausible and justifiable alternative interpretation of ......
  • Reserve Supply Corp. v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., OWENS-CORNING
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 4, 1992
    ...a plausible and justifiable alternative interpretation of its conduct that rebuts the alleged conspiracy.' " Market Page 55 Force, 906 F.2d at 1174 (quoting City of Long Beach v. Standard Oil Co., 872 F.2d 1401, 1406 (9th Cir.1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1076, 110 S.Ct. 1126, 107 L.Ed.2d 1......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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