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Argumentative passenger’s public intoxication conviction reversed

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A passenger in a car that a police officer stopped after seeing an arm and object hanging out of the car window, followed by the sound of shattering glass, was improperly convicted of public intoxication, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

The PI statute was revised in 2012 to require conduct elements along with intoxication for a conviction. The appeals court found former Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown erred in convicting Colton Milam of the Class B misdemeanor after a bench trial.

Milam argued with an officer and another passenger after acknowledging to the officer that he and another passenger had been drinking. Milam contended a bottle had been thrown from another vehicle, according to the record, and the officer said Milam profanely told his fellow passenger to tell the truth.

The officer later described Milam as loud, boisterous and uncooperative. He had removed Milam from the car and handcuffed him, contending the passenger was interfering with his investigation.

“Milam concedes that he was intoxicated in a public place. We believe, however, that reversing Milam’s conviction in this case is consistent with the purpose and spirit of the current public intoxication statute,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote for the panel in Colton Milam v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1312-CR-998.
 
“Prior to Milam’s arrest there is no evidence to indicate that Milam endangered his life or the life of another or disturbed the peace. The trial court declined to determine who threw the bottle from the window and found that it was immaterial to the decision,” Barnes wrote.

“Prosecuting and convicting Milam for being intoxicated, in a pulled-over car, while arguing with (the other passenger and officer) does not reach the level of disturbing the peace, harassment, annoyance, or alarm, and therefore does not meet the requirements of the public intoxication statute,” the panel concluded.
 

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  1. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  2. If the end result is to simply record the spoke word, then perhaps some day digital recording may eventually be the status quo. However, it is a shallow view to believe the professional court reporter's function is to simply report the spoken word and nothing else. There are many aspects to being a professional court reporter, and many aspects involved in producing a professional and accurate transcript. A properly trained professional steno court reporter has achieved a skill set in a field where the average dropout rate in court reporting schools across the nation is 80% due to the difficulty of mastering the necessary skills. To name just a few "extras" that a court reporter with proper training brings into a courtroom or a deposition suite; an understanding of legal procedure, technology specific to the legal profession, and an understanding of what is being said by the attorneys and litigants (which makes a huge difference in the quality of the transcript). As to contracting, or anti-contracting the argument is simple. The court reporter as governed by our ethical standards is to be the independent, unbiased individual in a deposition or courtroom setting. When one has entered into a contract with any party, insurance carrier, etc., then that reporter is no longer unbiased. I have been a court reporter for over 30 years and I echo Mr. Richardson's remarks that I too am here to serve.

  3. A competitive bid process is ethical and appropriate especially when dealing with government agencies and large corporations, but an ethical line is crossed when court reporters in Pittsburgh start charging exorbitant fees on opposing counsel. This fee shifting isn't just financially biased, it undermines the entire justice system, giving advantages to those that can afford litigation the most. It makes no sense.

  4. "a ttention to detail is an asset for all lawyers." Well played, Indiana Lawyer. Well played.

  5. I have a appeals hearing for the renewal of my LPN licenses and I need an attorney, the ones I have spoke to so far want the money up front and I cant afford that. I was wondering if you could help me find one that takes payments or even a pro bono one. I live in Indiana just north of Indianapolis.

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