ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT
David W. Stone, IV
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE
Attorney General of Indiana
Grant H. Carlton
Deputy Attorney General
SUPREME COURT OF INDIANA
OMOND J. SMITH, )APPEAL FROM THE MADISON CIRCUIT COURT
Appellant (Defendant Below), )
v. ) Indiana Supreme Court
) Cause No. 48S00-0009-CR-550
STATE OF INDIANA, )
Appellee (Plaintiff Below). )
The Honorable Frederick R. Spencer, Judge
Cause No. 48C01-9705-CF-075
ON DIRECT APPEAL
April 2, 2002
Omond Smith was convicted of murder, possession of a handgun without a permit,
and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. He was adjudged
a habitual offender and sentenced to a total of 103 years imprisonment.
In this direct appeal, Smith contends the State was judicially estopped from seeking
an instruction on accomplice liability because it agreed to a guilty plea from
another defendant on a theory of the facts that was allegedly inconsistent with
Smiths being an accomplice to the killing. He also contends he did
not receive effective assistance of counsel. We hold that judicial estoppel based
on an inconsistent position in an earlier case does not apply against the
State in a criminal case where the parties to the two actions are
not the same.
Factual and Procedural Background
Smith was charged with the murder of David Riggs. Smiths first trial
resulted in a conviction that was reversed by this Court. Smith v.
State, 721 N.E.2d 213 (Ind. 1999). After the first trial, Tommy Lampley
pleaded guilty to the Class C felony of Assisting a Criminal and became
the principal witness in Smiths retrial. The State proceeded on the theory
that Smith killed Riggs, but also tendered a jury instruction on accomplice liability,
apparently believing the jury might find that Lampley had killed Riggs and Smith
had aided Lampley. The only evidence supporting this theory was the testimony
of Randall Byrd, who testified that Lampley had told him that Lampley killed
Riggs, but would say that Smith was the killer. Although not evidence,
during Lampleys testimony Smith accused Lampley of the killing in an outburst before
The following quite different version of these events is derived largely from Lampleys
testimony. Some time after midnight on January 11, 1997, Lampley was walking
to a Village Pantry store in Anderson, Indiana, when Smith drove up in
a black truck and offered Lampley a ride. Lampley accepted, and Smith
drove them to Smiths house at 2223 Park Avenue. According to Lampley,
Lampley remained in the truck as Smith entered the house. After waiting
several minutes, Lampley got out of the truck and stuck his head into
the house, where he observed Riggs sitting on the couch and Smith walking
around the living room, apparently looking for something. Smith then requested and
received Riggs permission to search Riggs, and discovered a bag of crack cocaine
in Riggs pocket. Smith accused Riggs of stealing the cocaine, a scuffle
ensued, and Smith retrieved a brown suede bag. Lampley testified he saw
the handle of a gun sticking out of the bag, backed away from
the house, and began walking toward nearby railroad tracks.
Lampley soon heard footsteps behind him, turned around, and saw Riggs running and
then hiding behind a bush. Smith soon pulled up in the black
truck, pointed the headlights at the bush, and exited the truck, gun in
hand. Lampley continued to walk away, and soon heard gunshots. After
taking cover behind a dumpster for fifteen to twenty minutes, Lampley returned to
find Riggs lying in the street, covered with blood. Riggs had been
shot four times and died as a result of the wounds.
In the retrial, Smith was convicted of murder, possession of a handgun without
a permit, and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. This
I. Instruction on Accomplice Liability
The State tendered and received an accomplice liability instruction that [a] person who
knowingly or intentionally aids, induces or causes another person to commit an offense,
commits that offense even if the other person has not been prosecuted for
the offense, has not been convicted for the offense or has been acquitted
of the offense. Smith contends that because the State accepted Lampleys guilty
plea under Indiana Code section 35-44-3-2, which has been interpreted to apply to
people who did not actively participate in the crime itself, but who assisted
a criminal after he or she committed a crime,
See footnote the doctrine of judicial
estoppel precluded an instruction in Smiths trial that was based on Smiths aiding
Lampley in the killing.
Smith correctly points out that judicial estoppel has been held to prevent a
party from asserting a position in a legal proceeding inconsistent with one previously
asserted. Wabash Grain, Inc. v. Smith, 700 N.E.2d 234, 237 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1998), trans. denied.
However, judicial estoppel in this state has been
applied only in civil cases, and neither this Court nor the Court of
Appeals has applied the doctrine against the State in a criminal case.
A few criminal cases have noted the claim that judicial estoppel precluded the
State from asserting a particular contention, but in each case the elements of
estoppel were found wanting. As a result, none of these decisions considered
whether the doctrine may be invoked against the State in a criminal case.
Indeed, although a handful of jurisdictions outside Indiana theoretically allow judicial estoppel
against the government in criminal cases, we are aware of no case in
which the doctrine has been successfully invoked against the government. In State
v. Towery, 920 P.2d 290, 304 (Ariz. 1996), cited by many courts as
the leading case allowing judicial estoppel against the State in a criminal proceeding,
the court conditioned application of judicial estoppel on (1) identity of parties; (2)
identity of question involved; and (3) success in the prior judicial proceeding by
the party asserting the inconsistent position.
Ultimately, the court found no judicial
estoppel because the third condition was not met. Id. at 306.
As described by the Arizona Supreme Court, the doctrine would not help Smith
because of the lack of identity of parties in both this case and
Lampleys prosecution. See also Hoover v. State, 552 So.2d 834, 839 (Miss.
1989) (judicial estoppel not applicable
against the state in criminal cases where the
parties are not identical). In People v. Gayfield, 633 N.E.2d 919, 925
(Ill. Ct. App. 1994), the court, without discussion of whether judicial estoppel should
apply in a criminal proceeding, rejected the doctrine on the facts of the
case, concluding that there was no certain position taken at one proceeding that
was contrary to another proceeding. Accord Commonwealth v. Lam, 684 A.2d 153,
164 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1996).
Federal courts have been even less receptive to the application of judicial estoppel
against the government in criminal proceedings.
See United States v. Kattar, 840
F.2d 118, 129-30 n.7 (1st Cir. 1988) (Judicial estoppel is an obscure doctrine
that has never been applied against the government in a criminal proceeding.); Nichols
v. Scott, 69 F.3d 1255, 1272 (5th Cir. 1995) (judicial estoppel not constitutionally
mandated and has never been applied against the government in a criminal proceeding);
United States v. Garcia, No. 99-10262, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 4178, at *4
(9th Cir. Mar. 16, 2000) (Given the unique status of the government as
a litigant, and the great degree of latitude that the government enjoys in
prosecuting the law and striking plea bargains, we are simply not persuaded that
this is a case in which to [apply judicial estoppel].) (citations omitted).
We think the purpose of judicial estoppel is not well served by applying
it against the government in criminal cases. As the
Garcia court noted,
the government possesses unique status as a litigant and enjoys a great degree
of latitude in prosecuting the law and striking plea bargains. The purpose
of judicial estoppel is to protect the integrity of the judicial process rather
than to protect litigants from allegedly improper conduct by their adversaries. Wabash
Grain, 700 N.E.2d at 238. It does so by preventing a party
and its counsel from playing fast and loose with the courts. GEICO
Ins. Co. v. Rowell, 705 N.E.2d 476, 481
(Ind. Ct. App. 1999).
We do not believe the acceptance of a plea bargain from Lampley on
one theory of the case and the prosecution of Smith in a separate
action on an alternate theory can be construed as playing fast and loose
with the courts.
Perhaps more importantly, if, after one defendant is convicted, additional evidence becomes available
suggesting the guilt of a second, but on an inconsistent theory, some type
of relief may or may not be afforded the first defendant under existing
doctrines of law. Immunization of the second defendant due to a mistake
in the prosecution of the first, however, is not the appropriate remedy.
Accordingly, we hold that where the parties to the criminal proceedings in question
are not identical, judicial estoppel does not apply against the State. Here
the alleged inconsistency is between the States position in this case and its
prevailing by obtaining a guilty plea on an inconsistent theory in Lampleys.
We leave for another day the issue of whether judicial estoppel can be
applied against the State in a criminal case if the parties in the
prior suit are the same, i.e., in a subsequent prosecution of the same
Smith next contends that even if the instruction was not precluded by judicial
estoppel, it was fatally incomplete and misleading. Smith argues that the instruction
given, which tracks Indiana Code section 35-41-2-4, should have been supplemented by the
Indiana pattern jury instruction for accomplice liability, which adds the following:
To convict the defendant, the State must have proved each of the following
1. [name other person] committed the crime of [name crime aided, induced or
caused] in that [name other person] [insert elements of the crime alleged to
have been aided, induced or caused]
and the defendant
2. knowingly or intentionally
3. aided [name other person] in committing the [name crime]
induced [name other person] to commit the [name crime]
caused [name other person] to commit the [name crime].
If the State failed to prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable
doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty.
If the State did prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt,
you should find the defendant guilty of [name crime], a Class [insert class
of crime] [misdemeanor] [felony].
1 Ind. Pattern Jury Instructions (Criminal) 2.11 (2d ed. 1991). However, Smith
did not tender this instruction at trial. Furthermore, although Smith objected at
trial to the relevance of the States tendered instruction, he did not object
that the instruction was incomplete or misleading. Accordingly, the claim of error
is waived. Luna v. State, 758 N.E.2d 515, 518 (Ind. 2001).
Although Smith contends this alleged error was fundamental, and thus not susceptible to
waiver, we believe that under these facts the failure to add the pattern
jury instruction does not begin to rise to the level of fundamental error,
if indeed it was error at all. II. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Finally, at trial Smiths objection to the accomplice liability instruction was that it
was irrelevant because the evidence, if credited, established Smith, not someone else, to
be the killer. As noted earlier, Byrd testified that Lampley had admitted
to being the killer. The trial judge raised the issue of whether
this testimony was admissible as substantive evidence, given that it appears to be
See footnote After an extended discussion over logistical and scheduling issues raised by
recalling Lampley, the parties agreed to permit Byrd to testify and stipulated that
Lampley would deny having made the confession. There appears to be no
direct evidence of Smiths aiding Lampley. Nevertheless, jury instructions are within the
sound discretion of the trial court and will only be reversed on a
showing of abuse of that discretion.
Young v. State, 696 N.E.2d 386,
389 (Ind. 1998). Given the admission of Byrds testimony, we cannot say
the instruction was an abuse of the trial courts discretion to find it
at least marginally supported by the evidence.
Smith contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his counsel failed to
object to (1) comments about Smiths previous trial for this murder, (2) cross-examination
of defense witnesses regarding their failure to give information to the police, (3)
testimony concerning fears of witnesses, and (4) cross-examination for which the prosecutor had
not established a factual predicate. Ineffective assistance of counsel claims are governed
by the two-part test announced in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984).
Perez v. State, 748 N.E.2d 853, 854 (Ind. 2001). First, the
defendant must show that counsels performance was deficient. Id. This requires
a showing that counsels representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and
that the errors were so serious that they resulted in a denial of
the right to counsel guaranteed the defendant by the Sixth Amendment. Id.
Second, the defendant must show that the deficient performance prejudiced the defense.
Id. To establish prejudice, a defendant must show that there is
a reasonable probability that, but for counsels unprofessional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different. Id. A reasonable probability is a
probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome. Id.
Counsel is afforded considerable discretion in choosing strategy and tactics, and we will
accord those decisions deference. Id. A strong presumption arises that counsel
rendered adequate assistance and made all significant decisions in the exercise of reasonable
professional judgment. Id. We recognize that even the finest, most experienced
criminal defense attorneys may not agree on the ideal strategy or the most
effective way to represent a client. Id. Isolated mistakes, poor strategy,
inexperience, and instances of bad judgment do not necessarily render representation ineffective.
Id. When a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel is based on
counsels failure to object, the defendant also must show that a proper objection
would have been sustained. Willsey v. State, 698 N.E.2d 784, 794 (Ind.
Smith notes that over the course of his six-day trial, witnesses on seven
occasions made references to the first trial.
See footnote Smith contends the cumulative effect
of these references was to inform the jury that Smith had already been
convicted once of the murder of Riggs. Smith argues this knowledge may
have lulled the jury into relying on the decision of the prior jury,
or into thinking that even if they made a mistake there could be
another reversal on appeal. He argues that his counsel was ineffective for
failing to object to these references.
Most of the references were to the fact that the witnesses had testified
previously about the murder, without reference to the identity of the individual at
whose trial the witnesses testified. Even if the jury assumed Smith was
a defendant in the first trial, it does not follow that the jury
knew whether that former trial was on the same charge or whether there
was a conviction.
Bradberry v. State, 266 Ind. 530, 538, 364 N.E.2d
1183, 1187-88 (1977) (citing Chaffin v. Stynchcombe, 412 U.S. 17, 26-27 (1973)).
An objection might have led to an admonishment that the jury should not
draw any inference as to who was tried in the earlier trial, or
what its outcome was. But an objection would also have highlighted otherwise
scattered and oblique references to the prior trial. This sort of tactical
call is not the stuff of an ineffective assistance claim.
Smith next contends his counsel should have objected to cross-examination of two defense
witnesses on their failure to give police information about Riggs murder. Defense
witness Byrd testified that while Lampley and Byrd were incarcerated in the Madison
County jail, Lampley told Byrd that Lampley had killed Riggs and planned to
pin the blame on Smith. On cross-examination, Byrd admitted that he never
volunteered this information to police or jail officials. Braxton testified that he
saw Lampley and Smith together the day after the murder and that Lampley
was carrying a gun. Braxton admitted on cross-examination that he did not
report this information to the police. Smith argues that in some jurisdictions,
cross-examination about a defense witness failure to volunteer information to the police has
been deemed improper. That may be true, but there is no such
authority in this state, and failure to object cannot be the basis of
a serious performance shortcoming.
Smith next contends his counsel should have objected to testimony from some witnesses
that they were nervous about testifying. Lampley testified that he was nervous
about testifying and that he had been attacked while in prison because of
his earlier testimony in the case. A deputy prosecutor also testified that
he feared Lampley would be killed before he could testify. Brandle testified
that she was scared to testify against Smith. Smith contends there was
no evidence linking him to the attack on Lampley or to the fears
expressed by Lampley, Brandle, and the deputy prosecutor. Smith argues that allowing
this testimony left the jury with the impression that he was a killer
who was likely to retaliate against a witness.
Smith contends that his counsel should have objected to this testimony. He
relies on Cox v. State, 422 N.E.2d 357 (Ind. Ct. App. 1981), in
which the court held that testimony about threats made against a witness is
admissible only where a proper foundation has been laid showing the threats were
made either by the defendant or with the defendants knowledge or authorization.
Id. at 361-62. Here we have only testimony that the witnesses feared
they might be harmed if they testified, not that they had been threatened.
Without a showing tying these fears to Smith, its admission is errorfor
the same reason other unspecified threats are improper.
Finally, Smith contends his counsel should have objected to cross-examination for which the
prosecutor had not established a factual predicate. Smith argues the prosecutors cross-examination
of Byrd implied, with no factual basis, that Byrd had been asked to
fabricate evidence for Smith. Byrd testified that he prepared an affidavit claiming
that while Lampley and Byrd were incarcerated in the Madison County jail, Lampley
told Byrd that Lampley had killed Riggs and planned to pin the killing
on Smith. Smith contends his counsel should have objected to the following
exchange during the cross-examination of Byrd about the affidavit:
Q. Isnt it true Mr. Byrd that Omond Smith, who you have known all
of your life came to you and said, I need some help on
this murder case, correct?
A. Not really, no.
Q. Not really?
A. Omond didnt come to me and say, Hey I got a murder case,
I need help.
Q. But he came to you?
A. No. . . .
. . .
Q. Maybe I was too specific in my question. Truth is Omond Smith
came to you about this murder case is that correct?
Q. Never happened?
. . .
Q. The truth is you wrote that affidavit out at Omond Smiths request didnt
Smith contends the prosecutor had no reasonable basis for this line of questioning,
so it was improper. He argues that because his defense turned on
the credibility of Lampley, any improper attempt to reduce the credibility of a
witness who undermined Lampleys credibility assumed great importance, and failing to object to
this was ineffective assistance of counsel. Conclusion
The trial court is vested with broad discretion in determining the scope and
extent of cross-examination. Haynes v. State, 411 N.E.2d 659, 664 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1980). As this Court has noted, The scope of permissible cross-examination
extends to all phases of the subject matter covered in direct examination and
may include any matter which tends to elucidate, modify, explain, contradict, or rebut
testimony given in chief by the witness. Dean v. State, 272 Ind.
446, 449, 398 N.E.2d 1270, 1272 (1980). Further, once a party opens
up a subject on direct examination, he can not close the subject to
cross-examination at his own convenience. Martin v. State, 261 Ind. 492, 494,
306 N.E.2d 93, 94 (1974).
We do not agree there was no reasonable basis for the prosecutors line
of questioning. On direct examination, Byrd testified that Lampley told Byrd that
Lampley had killed Riggs and planned to pin the blame on Smith.
On cross-examination, Byrd testified that Doug Long was attorney for both Smith and
Byrd at the time, and that Byrd had conveyed Lampleys revelation to Long.
Byrd did not remember ever speaking directly to Smith about the matter.
According to Byrd, Long told Byrd to prepare an affidavit detailing Lampleys
statements. The prosecutor attempted to impeach Byrds version of events by pointing
out that Long did not represent Smith at that time. Immediately following
this impeachment, the prosecutor, apparently attempting to impeach the veracity of the affidavit,
began the line of questioning wherein he alleged Byrd had been directed by
Smith, not Long, to prepare the affidavit. Smith has not made a
persuasive case that there was no reasonable basis for the prosecutors attempt to
impeach the veracity of the affidavit by suggesting it was Smith, not Long,
who asked Byrd to prepare it. Smith has not demonstrated that an
objection to this line of questioning would have been sustained.
In sum, only one of Smiths proposed objections, if properly made, would have
been sustained. We do not find the errant admission of testimony of
unspecified concerns of witnesses to rise to the level of defective performance necessary
to support a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland.
The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
SHEPARD, C.J., and DICKSON, SULLIVAN, and RUCKER, JJ., concur.
See Hauk v. State, 729 N.E.2d 994, 999 (Ind. 2000).
See, e.g., Brightman v. State, 758 N.E.2d 41, 47-48 (Ind. 2001) (no
judicial estoppel on facts of case, since States two positions did not contradict
one another); Redington v. State, 678 N.E.2d 114, 117 n.5 (Ind. Ct. App.
1997), trans. denied (same); Dell v. City of Tipton, 618 N.E.2d 1338, 1342
(Ind. Ct. App. 1993), trans. denied (same).
The court reasoned that judicial estoppel should be no less applicable in
a criminal than in a civil trial because [a]ny other rule would permit
absurd results. Id. The only factual scenario given to bolster this
argument, however, was the repeated use of the same defendants admission that he
robbed the convenience store to obtain repeated convictions for robberies of different stores.
Whatever the persuasive force of this example, it applies only to multiple
trials of the same defendant.
Although against Lampleys penal interest, it was not admissible under Indiana Rule
of Evidence 804 because Lampleythe declarantwas not unavailable. Lampley had not denied
making the statement, so it was not admissible as impeachment.
During redirect examination of Lampley, the following exchange occurred:
Q. Then you testified in front of another jury didnt you?
A. Yes I did.
Q. Told them what happened didnt you?
Madison County police officer Jerry Bailey testified about a jail confrontation between Smith
Q. Why did you know . . . how did you know that was
A. From the previous trial of 97, I was aware of the fact that
one was probably going to be testifying against the other individual.
During the direct examination of Bob Baccus the following took place:
Q. Okay, do you remember testifying in this case in the previous trial?
Q. Do you remember me asking you that very same question at the previous
trial, Mr. Baccus?
A. It has been a while back, I cant really remember.
Q. It has been a couple of years since you testified?
Q. The last time?
During Jana Brandles cross-examination this occurred:
Q. Jana I remember an incident where you testified previously in this case, you
remembered something very vivid about that experience at Bobby Baccus house with that
handgun dont you?
During the cross-examination of Marlin Braxton, this exchange took place:
A. You was talking about the last trial. Cummings was on me so
rough like I was the criminal. Like I was the one on
. . .
Q. Bear with me a second okay. You made that response when an
individual named Doug Long was asking you questions, right?
A. Yeah, I told him . . . .
Q. Before Mr. Cummings asked you a single question . . . .
During redirect examination of Harrison Jackson, this exchange occurred:
Q. It has been a couple of years since you testified the last time,
is that correct?
A. That is also correct.
Finally, during redirect examination of Burt Lawler, this occurred:
Q. It is not the first time you testified under oath that you said
that is it?
A. No sir.
Q. Been in court on a prior proceeding a couple of years ago and
said the very same thing didnt you.
A. Yes sir.