Gosnell v. State

Decision Date26 May 1978
Docket NumberNo. 277S136,277S136
Citation268 Ind. 429,376 N.E.2d 471
PartiesGeorge GOSNELL, Appellant, v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee.
CourtIndiana Supreme Court

Warren D. Krebs, Lebanon, for appellant.

Theodore L. Sendak, Atty. Gen., J. Roland Duvall, Deputy Atty. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellee.

GIVAN, Chief Justice.

Appellant was convicted by jury for violation of IC § 35-24.1-4.1-1(a)(1), delivery of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to a term of 12 years, 6 months, and fined in the amount of $200.00.

Appellant first claims the trial court erred in overruling his petition for mental examination of the State's witness to the crime, Michael Simone. The general rule is that a witness is clothed with a presumption of competency. When the competency to testify is placed in issue it is the duty of the trial court to schedule a hearing in order to properly determine whether the witness is in fact competent to testify. If the evidence places the competency in doubt, the trial court should order the witness to be examined by a psychiatrist unless the State can show a paramount interest in denying the petition. The trial court has wide discretion in disposing of petitions of this kind and will be reversed only if it has clearly abused that discretion. Reiff v. State (1971), 256 Ind. 105, 267 N.E.2d 184; Wedmore v. State (1957), 237 Ind. 212, 143 N.E.2d 649.

Appellant's petition requested that the witness be ordered to submit to at least one psychiatric examination because he had a history of mental disease which manifested itself in bizarre mental disturbances, including recent attempts to commit suicide. It further charged the witness with being a heavy user of drugs and a psychopathic liar. At a hearing on the petition the appellant relied solely upon a similar petition for the mental examination of the witness from a prior proceeding. The accuracy of this petition was stipulated by both parties. There was conflicting evidence as to the charge that Simone had undergone psychiatric counselling or attempted to commit suicide. It was shown that he had used hallucinatory drugs while working for the Indiana State Police and had failed to notify the State Police of his drug use until approximately one year from the date of the appellant's alleged drug delivery. However the State demonstrated that Simone had testified on behalf of the State in prior drug related prosecutions. We must therefore conclude that the trial court had more than sufficient evidence to sustain a finding that Simone was competent to testify at trial. We hold there was no discretionary abuse in refusing to require Simone to submit to psychiatric examination.

During the course of the trial and prior to the resting of the State's case, appellant filed a supplemental list of possible defense witnesses. The State moved to strike this list. The trial court overruled the State's motion. However, the court limited the testimony of the supplemental witnesses to those elements of surprise that the appellant had complained of at trial. It is this limitation of testimony which the appellant cites as error.

When the trial court announced its decision to limit the testimony of the supplemental witnesses, appellant's counsel stated, "(t)hat's fair enough, Judge," and then...

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12 cases
  • Bellmore v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • October 29, 1992
    ...an oath." Ware v. State (1978), 268 Ind. 563, 565, 376 N.E.2d 1150, 1151. A witness is presumed to be competent. Gosnell v. State (1978), 268 Ind. 429, 430, 376 N.E.2d 471, 472. If evidence places the competency of a witness in doubt, the trial court should order a psychiatric examination. ......
  • Head v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 14, 1982
    ...here challenges the propriety of the testimony, he has waived his allegation of error by failing to object at trial. Gosnell v. State, (1978) 268 Ind. 429, 376 N.E.2d 471; Richard v. State, (1974) 262 Ind. 534, 319 N.E.2d Officer Burke was also asked whether he knew Richard Nunn's reputatio......
  • Wallace v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • December 6, 1985
    ...not overturn the trial court's factual determination unless it is not supported by the facts and their inferences. Gosnell v. State (1979), 268 Ind. 429, 376 N.E.2d 471. The trial court was not bound by the experts' testimony. Howard v. State (1976), 265 Ind. 503, 355 N.E.2d 833. There was ......
  • Pier v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • March 22, 1983
    ...reach the question of whether the court should have permitted it to be withdrawn. No error was preserved for appeal. Gosnell v. State (1978), 268 Ind. 429, 376 N.E.2d 471. For this same reason we conclude that Pier lacks standing for his constitutional challenges to the statute. Chain v. St......
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