ILNews

Court rules on 'nude in front yard' case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Though the front yard of your home may not be considered a "public place," state law prohibits you from standing there naked because that nudity would be visible from a public street or sidewalk, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Chad A. Weideman v. State of Indiana, No. 87A01-0801-CR-51, a unanimous three-judge panel determined that Indiana's public nudity statute, Indiana Code Section 35-45-4-1.5(c), is not unconstitutionally vague, but the state failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that a Warrick County man committed public nudity.

Weideman was charged with the Class B misdemeanor following an incident June 10, 2006. Two neighbors went out to their vehicle after dark and saw Weideman standing nude in his front yard near their fence. Shining the truck headlights at him, they saw Weideman with a look of panic or surprise on his face and he immediately dropped to the ground and rolled into a nearby ditch, then crawled back to his property. The neighbors called police and Weideman was later charged, found guilty at a bench trial, and sentenced to a year of probation.

On appeal, Weideman argued the public nudity statute was unconstitutional because the term "public place" is ambiguous or vague, so much so that "a reasonable person would not be apprised that he could not be nude under the cover of darkness in the front yard of his private residence."

The state statute provides that "a person who knowingly or intentionally appears in a public place in a state of nudity with the intent to be seen by another person commits a Class B misdemeanor." In analyzing the statute and terminology, the court opted to use a definition used by the Indiana Supreme Court in the context of the former public indecency statute of 1979 - that it means "any place where the public is invited or free to go upon special or implied invitation; a place available to all or a certain segment of the public."

While he wasn't standing in a public place when seen, Weideman did appear nude in a place where the public could see him, the court concluded.

"We conclude that the public nudity statute prohibits knowingly or intentionally being visibly nude to persons in a public place," Judge Patricia Riley wrote. "This would include being nude in your front yard or neighbor's front yard if you are visible to a sidewalk or road. Further, we conclude that the statute provides notice enabling ordinary people to understand the conduct that it prohibits, and it does not encourage arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement."

However, the court did agree with Weideman on a point that the state didn't provide sufficient evidence that he had a specific intent to be seen nude. The court reversed his conviction and instructed the trial court to enter a new judgment for a lesser misdemeanor charge, which provides for a sentence of up to 60 days.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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