Specht v. State, 82S009810CR612.

CourtSupreme Court of Indiana
Citation734 N.E.2d 239
Docket NumberNo. 82S009810CR612.,82S009810CR612.
PartiesRyan Michael SPECHT, Appellant (Defendant Below), v. STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below).
Decision Date17 August 2000

734 N.E.2d 239

Ryan Michael SPECHT, Appellant (Defendant Below),
STATE of Indiana, Appellee (Plaintiff Below)

No. 82S009810CR612.

Supreme Court of Indiana.

August 17, 2000.

Terry A. White, Barbara Coyle Williams, Evansville, for Appellant.

Jeffrey A. Modisett, Attorney General of Indiana, Randi E. Froug, Deputy Attorney General, Indianapolis, for Appellee.

SHEPARD, Chief Justice.

Since adopting the Indiana Rules of Evidence six years ago, we have not considered whether a witness may be impeached with evidence of a guilty plea to a crime for which judgment has not yet been rendered. We conclude that the answer is still yes.

The MotoMart Robbery

We described the events precipitating this case in an opinion issued earlier this year involving a confederate of Ryan Michael Specht.

On the night of March 10, 1998, Erick Schmitt and two friends, Ryan Specht and Michelle Evans, held up the MotoMart, a gas station/convenience store located in western Vanderburgh County. Schmitt and Specht performed the robbery while Evans waited outside.
734 N.E.2d 240
Both armed, the two men ran inside the gas station, with Schmitt in the lead. Upon entering, they discovered two people in the store, ... Charlie Simpson, the store clerk, and Brett Tracy, a customer. Schmitt fatally shot Simpson three times in the head and then shot Tracy once in the face. The two then quickly emptied the cash registers and fled the scene.
Tipped off by an informant, the police arrested Specht the following day; he confessed his part in the robbery and implicated Schmitt and Evans as accomplices. The police then moved to arrest Schmitt; they read him his Miranda rights, handcuffed him, and placed him in the back of a police vehicle. While Schmitt initially denied any involvement in the murder, upon seeing Specht in the backseat of a different police vehicle, he admitted participating.

Schmitt v. State, 730 N.E.2d 147 (Ind. 2000). A jury found Schmitt guilty of murder, attempted murder, and robbery, and we affirmed his convictions.

In the present case, we turn to appellant Ryan Michael Specht's contentions of error aimed at his convictions for felony murder, robbery, and attempted murder.

I. Impeachment without Conviction

Specht claims that the trial court erred by permitting the State to impeach him on the basis of a prior guilty plea that had not been reduced to a conviction. Before the events that led to this case, the State charged Specht with confinement, and he pled guilty. The trial court accepted the plea and, pursuant to the State's recommendation, agreed to withhold judgment until January 5, 1999, and ordered Specht placed on probation. If Specht completed the terms of his probation, the court declared, it would enter judgment on the plea as a class A misdemeanor; if he did not, the court would enter judgment as a class D felony.

The court had not yet entered judgment when the present case commenced on August 3, 1998. At trial, the court denied Specht's motion in limine to prohibit evidence of the plea, and overruled Specht's objection to the State's use of the plea to impeach him.

Indiana Rule of Evidence 609(a) provides that proof that a witness has been convicted of a crime may be admitted for the purpose of attacking that witness's credibility if the crime involves dishonesty or if it is a crime catalogued in 609(a)(1). The list in Rule 609(a)(1) includes the crime to which Specht had pled guilty, confinement.

The issue, then, is whether a guilty plea not yet reduced to judgment constituted a conviction for impeachment purposes. Prior to the adoption of the Indiana Rules of Evidence, we held that it did, stating, "when there has been a plea of guilty it is a conviction of crime and the presumption of innocence no...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • Myers v. Superintendent, Ind. State Prison, 1:16-cv-02023-JRS-DML
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of Indiana)
    • September 30, 2019
    ...the Indiana Supreme Court has noted that "the Rules of Evidence generally superseded previously existing common law." Specht v. State , 734 N.E.2d 239, 240 (Ind. 2000) ; see McIntyre v. State , 717 N.E.2d 114, 121 (Ind. 1999) (suggesting that it is an open question whether "common law decis......
  • Camm v. State, 87S00-0612-CR-499.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 26, 2009
    ...added). This Court did not formally adopt the committee commentary, but has in the past relied on it. See, e.g., Specht v. State, 734 N.E.2d 239, 240 (Ind. 2000) (relying in part on commentary to Rule 609(a)); see also Atwell v. State, 738 N.E.2d 332, 335 n. 3 (Ind.Ct.App.2000) (relying on ......
  • Outback Steakhouse of Florida v. Markley, 18S04-0602-CV-66.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • November 8, 2006
    ...is an element of the crime. See United States v. Pritchard, 773 F.2d 873, 876 (7th Cir.1985). Outback cites Specht v. State, 734 N.E.2d 239, 240 (Ind. 2000) and McDaniel v. State, 268 Ind. 380, 383, 375 N.E.2d 228, 230 (1978) for the proposition that a guilty plea is equivalent to a convict......
  • McCarthy v. State, 37S04-0006-CR-359.
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
    • June 28, 2001
    ...that jurors are unable to set aside preconceived notions of guilt and render a verdict based upon the evidence. See Specht v. State, 734 N.E.2d 239, 241 (Ind.2000). There was no abuse of discretion IV. McCarthy also complains that his convictions are not supported by sufficient evidence. Wh......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT