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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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