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Supreme Court affirms sexually violent predator status

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A man’s challenge to the finding that he is a sexually violent predator failed because the invited error doctrine precludes consideration of his claims on appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today. If it wasn’t for this error, three of the justices believed the defendant would have been entitled to relief.

In Matthew A. Baugh v. State of Indiana, No. 18S04-1007-CR-398, the justices affirmed the determination that Matthew Baugh is a sexually violent predator. He was convicted of two counts of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor. After such a conviction, a hearing may be held to determine whether the defendant also should be classified as a sexually violent predator.

Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-7.5(e) requires the court to appoint two psychologists or psychiatrists who have expertise in criminal behavior to evaluate the defendant and testify at the hearing. The hearing may be combined with a person’s sentencing hearing.

The trial court combined the two hearings and received two reports from the court-appointed psychiatrist and psychologist. Both found Baugh would be likely to commit future sex offenses, and one report stated he should be classified as a SVP. The two doctors did not testify at the hearing.

Instead of challenging their credentials as far as being able to evaluate Baugh or the fact they were not there in person to testify, Baugh’s counsel said it’s up to the court to make the SVP determination based on the convictions and the doctor’s reports. The trial court found him to be a SVP.

“The invited error doctrine applies here to preclude consideration of the defendant's appellate claims based on the absence of the doctors' live testimony at the hearing and the alleged insufficient expertise in criminal behavioral disorders,” wrote Justice Brent Dickson for the majority, with which Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Frank Sullivan and Theodore Boehm concurred.

Justice Robert Rucker concurred in separate opinion in which the chief justice and Justice Sullivan joined. They believe that had it not been for the invited error doctrine, Baugh would be entitled to relief. Based on their interpretation of the statute, the doctors had to testify in person at the hearing, and had he asked for them to testify live, the trial court would have had to honor that request. But because he invited the trial court to make its determination based in part on the doctors’ reports, he can’t now challenge that decision.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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