ILNews

Court divided on invasion of privacy charge

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split today as to whether a woman who had an order for protection against her should have been convicted of invasion of privacy when she spoke to the protected party during a court hearing.

Kimberly Thomas had an ex parte order for protection issued against her that prevented her from “harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting or directly or indirectly communicating” with James Smith. While that order was in effect, the trial court held a hearing on the matter with both parties present. Thomas told Smith to stop calling her at the end of the hearing and in the court’s presence. She was immediately arrested and charged with Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy.

The trial court found she violated the order and convicted her. Thomas argued there wasn’t enough evidence to show she acted with the mens rea to commit invasion of privacy because the “courtroom is a neutral zone where some terms of the protective order are naturally suspended” to conduct judicial proceedings. She argued that her statement was a gross violation of decency and decorum and that she should be held in contempt.

In Kimberly Thomas v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1002-CR-105, Judges Elaine Brown and Carr Darden believed given the context of this case that the judge should have used direct contempt to punish Thomas for her statement. They reversed her conviction and remanded for the trial court to resume direct contempt proceedings to address her comment if the court chooses to do so.

Judge Cale Bradford dissented, finding nothing in Indiana statute would have precluded the state from filing the invasion of privacy charge. He agreed that direct contempt proceedings would have been the “more efficient and preferred remedy” but the “statute plainly states that a person who violates a protective order commits invasion of privacy.”

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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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