Coleman v. State, No. 181S22

Docket NºNo. 181S22
Citation433 N.E.2d 384
Case DateMarch 25, 1982
CourtSupreme Court of Indiana

Page 384

433 N.E.2d 384
Jerome COLEMAN, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
No. 181S22.
Supreme Court of Indiana.
March 25, 1982.

Robert E. Stochel, Merrillville, for appellant.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Carolyn M. Brawner, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

DeBRULER, Justice.

Jerome Coleman, the appellant, was charged by an information with attempted murder, a class A felony (Ind.Code § 35-42-1-1; Ind.Code § 35-41-5-1). He was convicted after a jury trial and sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment. This appeal

Page 385

from the denial of his motion to correct errors raises two issues:

(1) Whether the trial court denied the defense the opportunity to cross-examine State's witnesses regarding their credibility.

(2) Whether it was reversible error for the trial court to refuse to grant the defendant's motion for a mistrial.

The evidence supporting the verdict discloses that Larry Nash and three other men, including the defendant, drove in Nash's car to Gary from Chicago. Upon reaching Gary, the defendant began driving the car. He drove into an alley and stopped the car, ordering Nash out at gunpoint. Nash emerged from the car and his companions shot him in the head, neck and arm and then fled. Nash was found by Gary police and told them who had shot him.

I.

The defendant claims that on two occasions during trial he was denied his right, guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, to cross-examine witnesses against him. The first occasion was during the cross-examination of Larry Nash, the complaining witness. Defense counsel was questioning Nash about Kim McGinnis, Nash's common-law wife, who was also a State's witness. Counsel asked: "Have you ever had any altercations with Miss McGinnis where you inflicted bodily injury on her?" The trial court sustained the State's objection that the question was irrelevant. Nash had already testified that "I didn't prefer for her not to testify."

The defense argued at trial that it was attempting to determine if Nash had any influence on McGinnis' testimony, "by either coercing her directly or causing her to have ulterior motives in testifying."

The second occasion was during the cross-examination of McGinnis. Defense counsel asked: "Has Mr. Nash ever struck you?" The State objected on the ground of irrelevance, and the court sustained the objection. Cross-examination resumed and the following colloquy took place:

"Q. Did you ever indicate to Mr. Nash that you did not want to testify in this matter?

A. Yes.

Q. What was his reaction?

BY THE STATE: Objection. Irrelevant.

BY THE COURT: Sustained."

Defense counsel had already asked McGinnis: "Are you testifying here of your own free will?" McGinnis answered that she was.

The defendant argues that the rulings on cross-examination impermissibly interfered with the defense attempt to impeach the witnesses' credibility, relying on Davis v. Alaska, (1974) 415 U.S. 308, 94 S.Ct. 1105, 39 L.Ed.2d 347, and Lagenour v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 441, 376 N.E.2d 475.

Davis involved a juvenile witness whose testimony against the defendant was sheltered from impeachment by a state policy protecting the confidentiality of juvenile offenders' records. The Court held that the right of cross-examination is superior to a state's interest in protecting juvenile offenders.

In Lagenour, we said:

"(t)he Davis court was not concerned with the exercise of a state's power to define the scope of proper impeachment or cross-examination as we are in this case." 376 N.E.2d at 478.

We held in Lagenour that the trial court's order barring the defendant from questioning the prosecuting witness and two other alleged victims of his sexual assaults about their prior sexual conduct, while not within the scope of the "rape shield" law, was a matter within the trial court's sound discretion and was not an impingement upon cross-examination.

Regarding the claim in this case that the cross-examination right was denied in the questioning of Nash, the defense had already elicited the testimony that Nash wanted McGinnis to testify against the defendant. The question about...

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3 practice notes
  • Van Orden v. State, No. 183S8
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 26 Octubre 1984
    ...We require an assurance that there was no residuum of prejudice remaining after the jury was admonished. Coleman v. State, (1982) Ind., 433 N.E.2d 384; Davis v. State, (1981) Ind., 418 N.E.2d 203. Here, there was only a reference made to certain pages by the prosecutor whereupon he immediat......
  • Skaggs v. State, No. 4-781A45
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 26 Julio 1982
    ...itself, not its prejudicial impact. We are satisfied "no residuum" of prejudice remained. Coleman v. State, (1982) Ind., 433 N.E.2d 384. IMPEACHMENT During its case in chief the State called Mrs. Skaggs, mother of the prosecutrix. When she offered testimony unfavorable to the Stat......
  • Jarrett v. State, No. 383
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 17 Julio 1984
    ...sufficed to cure the prejudice we will consider the probable impact of the irregularity on the verdict. Coleman v. State, (1982) Ind., 433 N.E.2d 384. Because of the steps taken by the trial judge, we cannot say that the testimony had a significant impact on the jury. We find no Defendant n......
3 cases
  • Van Orden v. State, No. 183S8
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 26 Octubre 1984
    ...We require an assurance that there was no residuum of prejudice remaining after the jury was admonished. Coleman v. State, (1982) Ind., 433 N.E.2d 384; Davis v. State, (1981) Ind., 418 N.E.2d 203. Here, there was only a reference made to certain pages by the prosecutor whereupon he immediat......
  • Skaggs v. State, No. 4-781A45
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 26 Julio 1982
    ...itself, not its prejudicial impact. We are satisfied "no residuum" of prejudice remained. Coleman v. State, (1982) Ind., 433 N.E.2d 384. IMPEACHMENT During its case in chief the State called Mrs. Skaggs, mother of the prosecutrix. When she offered testimony unfavorable to the Stat......
  • Jarrett v. State, No. 383
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 17 Julio 1984
    ...sufficed to cure the prejudice we will consider the probable impact of the irregularity on the verdict. Coleman v. State, (1982) Ind., 433 N.E.2d 384. Because of the steps taken by the trial judge, we cannot say that the testimony had a significant impact on the jury. We find no Defendant n......

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