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7th Circuit affirms cross burner's convictions

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found sufficient evidence to uphold a Muncie man's convictions stemming from his burning of a cross in front of the home of a family with biracial children.

Kyle Milbourn was sentenced to 121 months in prison for convictions of interfering with housing rights of another person, intimidation, using fire to commit a felony, and witness tampering. Milbourn and Kyle Shroyer decided after an evening of drinking to build and burn a cross in the front yard of Paula Tracy and Phillip Thrash's home in March 2006. Paula's three children from a previous relationship, who are biracial, lived there along with their African-American grandfather. Shroyer was dating Tracy's half-sister at the time, whom he later married. The two even took pictures of the burning and told others what they had done.

In United States of America v. Kyle Milbourn, No. 08-2525, Milbourn appealed because he claimed there was insufficient evidence to support the finding he was motivated by the racial makeup of the people who lived in the home and that the cross was burned to intimidate or interfere with their right to live there.

In addition to the photographs and statements made by Milbourn, the jury could have deduced he knew biracial children lived there because Shroyer was dating Tracy's half-sister, wrote Judge Terence Evans. Also, several witnesses said they heard Milbourn make racist comments about blacks and that he said it would be cool to join the Ku Klux Klan.

"And the frosting on the cake was that he picked, of all things, a cross to burn," he wrote. "And not just any cross, but one he and Shroyer constructed, crudely to be sure, in a shed near the trailer where they had been drinking and dancing."

The government presented evidence of the family's feelings of fear and anger after the cross burning and that they sought counseling for their oldest child, who had witnessed the event. The family even moved out of the home because of the incident.

The Circuit judges also found the prosecutor's comments during closing arguments on how Milbourn aspired to join the KKK didn't result in prosecutorial misconduct. A witness had testified that Milbourn had said he thought about joining the KKK.

Milbourn also waived his argument that the District judge should have disregarded the statutorily required mandatory minimum 10-year-sentence for the use of fire in commission of a felony.

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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