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Judges split on stalking conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided Friday in reversing a man’s conviction of stalking. The decision hinged on their interpretations of the term “repeated” in Indiana’s anti-stalking laws.

Rodney Nicholson repeatedly called the Wolfe household in 2006, making lewd comments and noises over the phone when Patricia or one of her daughters answered. Nicholson even called the family from right outside their home. He pleaded guilty to voyeurism charges and was incarcerated. The calls stopped while Nicholson was incarcerated, but resumed on Nov. 1, 2008, when he called the home and made lewd comments and noises to Patricia.

He was convicted of Class C felony stalking and Class B misdemeanor harassment stemming from the lewd phone call in 2008 to Patricia. Nicholson challenged his stalking conviction, claiming insufficient evidence.

The state had to prove that Nicholson’s conduct under the stalking statute was “repeated or continuing” harassment. The majority concluded the one phone call in 2008 didn’t constitute repeated harassment and doesn’t support the conviction. Even if taking into consideration the 2006 conduct, the judges also concluded Nicholson couldn’t be convicted under the anti-stalking law.

There is little guidance as to what constitutes “repeated or continuing” for purposes of the stalking or harassment statutes, so the majority relied on the dictionary definition of “repeat” and an Alabama appellate court’s definition of “repeatedly” to hold that the term under the anti-stalking law means “more than once,” wrote Judge Michael Barnes in Rodney Nicholson v. State of Indiana, No. 55A01-1005-CR-251.

The majority noted that the Legislature could have put definitive time limitations in the statute and didn’t, and it believed the timeframe in which the conduct occurred is inherent to the inquiry whether harassment was “repeated or continuing.” Judges Barnes and Terry Crone felt Nicholson’s conduct from the 2008 phone call doesn’t fit any reasonable definition of “repeated or continuing harassment.”

Judge Cale Bradford dissented, writing, “Nicholson repeated essentially the same type of conduct aimed at the same victim. The gap of time between the repeated conduct, occasioned primarily by Nicholson’s incarceration for the first offense against the victim, is a non-factor under the wording of the Indiana stalking statute.”

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  1. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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