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Admission of return of service did not violate Confrontation Clause

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In a matter of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals Friday concluded that a return of service on a protective order is not testimonial, so its admission at trial did not violate a defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause.

Ronald Gaines appealed his conviction of Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy, arguing two exhibits – a page showing Gaines was served with a copy of a protective order and a certified printout indicated he received personal service of the order – violated his confrontation rights and contained hearsay.

The trial court granted an ex parte protective order against Gaines and he was served by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. He was arrested after violating the order by showing up at S.G.’s home.

Gaines claimed that the certified copy of the ex parte order shouldn’t have been admitted because it violated his rights under the Sixth Amendment. He wanted to be able to cross-examine the sheriff’s deputy regarding the service.

Other courts have rejected Gaines’ argument, the Court of Appeals noted, pointing to cases from Arizona, Massachusetts, and Oregon.

“The primary purpose of the return of service is administrative — ensuring that the defendant received notice of the protective order. Although the return of service may be used later in a criminal prosecution, the return of service was not created solely for use in a pending or future criminal prosecution. As such, we conclude that the return of service was not testimonial, and its admission did not violate Gaines’s rights under the Confrontation Clause,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote in Ronald Gaines v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1303-CR-123.

The judges also rejected Gaines’ claim that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction because of a variance between the charging information and the proof at trial.

“There is no indication that Gaines was misled by the alleged variance here. In fact, the difference between an ex parte protective order and a protective order was never mentioned during the trial. There was only one protective order issued, and there was no confusion as to what protective order was at issue. … Gaines has failed to show how he is vulnerable to double jeopardy in a future criminal proceeding,” Barnes wrote.

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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