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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. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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