ILNews

Closed-circuit testimony not unconstitutional

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a man who repeatedly molested a young girl was not deprived of his right to cross-examine his accuser when she testified via closed-circuit television.

In Hane C. Harris v. State of Indiana, No. 18A04-1108-CR-391, Hane Harris was charged two counts of Class A felony child molesting, one count of Class C felony child molesting and Class D felony child solicitation stemming from his sexual abuse of his girlfriend’s daughter. The jury found him guilty, except for one count of Class A felony child molesting, and also found Harris to be a habitual offender.  

Harris shared an apartment with his girlfriend and her daughter, T.D.S, when the child was between ages 7 and 8. He molested T.D.S. repeatedly, threatening to kill her and her mother if she told anyone. T.D.S. told her grandmother about the abuse when she was 9 years old, and a subsequent physical examination revealed evidence of her allegations.

Harris was sentenced to 81 years, with 79 years executed. On appeal, he claimed he was denied his right to confrontation because T.D.S. was allowed to testify via closed-circuit television. He also contended that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences.

The appellate court held that based on the testimony of a psychiatrist and the child’s grandmother, the state was able to show that T.D.S. was a protected person who, if required to testify in-person, could suffer serious psychological trauma. Although she was not present in the courtroom, the defense was still able to cross-examine her via closed-circuit television.

Harris also argued that the court failed to articulate why it was imposing consecutive sentences. The COA held that a trial court need only find one aggravating factor to impose consecutive sentences, and Harris had seven aggravators, including 10 prior felony convictions and 10 misdemeanor convictions. While the appellate court affirmed the length of his sentence, it remanded to the trial court, holding that the habitual offender finding is an enhancement to his sentence, and not a separate offense, as the trial court recorded.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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