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5th Amendment right against self-incrimination not violated

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that because a defendant’s attorney asked a detective whether the defendant admitted to molesting his girlfriend’s daughter, the defense opened the door to the prosecution to ask about the scope of the interview. The defendant claimed his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the detective said the defendant asked to “stop speaking” during the interview.

John Ludack was in a relationship with T.E. for several years and watched her children while she worked. About two years after he began dating T.E., Ludack started to molest T.E.’s 10-year-old daughter, M.E. He molested her several times and threatened her not to tell anyone. Several years later, she told her older brother, who reported it to their father. T.E. then called police and Ludack was arrested and charged with two counts each of Class A felony child molesting and Class C felony child molesting.

He was convicted on the charges and found to be a habitual offender. The Class C felony charges were dismissed per the state’s request, and Ludack was sentenced to the maximum 130 years.

In John Ludack v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1109-CR-930, Ludack argued that his right against compulsory self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment was violated by Detective Chris Lawrence’s testimony at his trial. Lawrence interviewed Ludack after he was arrested. The defense first brought up whether Ludack made any admissions during the interview, and the detective said no. The trial court then allowed the prosecutor to further examine Lawrence to confirm Ludack neither admitted nor denied the charges. Lawrence then said, “He didn’t deny doing it either, he just asked to stop speaking.”
 
The appellate judges found the admission of the testimony didn’t rise to a fundamental error. Ludack’s attorney was the one who opened the door for the testimony.

“To open the door, the defendant’s evidence must use his or her pre-trial silence as probative of the defendant’s innocence and leave the trier of fact with a false or misleading impression,” wrote Judge Terry Crone.

The COA also upheld his sentence, noting Ludack was in a position of trust when he molested M.E., had a lengthy criminal history, and that the molestations appeared to stop only because he was arrested.

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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