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5th Amendment right against self-incrimination not violated

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that because a defendant’s attorney asked a detective whether the defendant admitted to molesting his girlfriend’s daughter, the defense opened the door to the prosecution to ask about the scope of the interview. The defendant claimed his Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the detective said the defendant asked to “stop speaking” during the interview.

John Ludack was in a relationship with T.E. for several years and watched her children while she worked. About two years after he began dating T.E., Ludack started to molest T.E.’s 10-year-old daughter, M.E. He molested her several times and threatened her not to tell anyone. Several years later, she told her older brother, who reported it to their father. T.E. then called police and Ludack was arrested and charged with two counts each of Class A felony child molesting and Class C felony child molesting.

He was convicted on the charges and found to be a habitual offender. The Class C felony charges were dismissed per the state’s request, and Ludack was sentenced to the maximum 130 years.

In John Ludack v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1109-CR-930, Ludack argued that his right against compulsory self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment was violated by Detective Chris Lawrence’s testimony at his trial. Lawrence interviewed Ludack after he was arrested. The defense first brought up whether Ludack made any admissions during the interview, and the detective said no. The trial court then allowed the prosecutor to further examine Lawrence to confirm Ludack neither admitted nor denied the charges. Lawrence then said, “He didn’t deny doing it either, he just asked to stop speaking.”
 
The appellate judges found the admission of the testimony didn’t rise to a fundamental error. Ludack’s attorney was the one who opened the door for the testimony.

“To open the door, the defendant’s evidence must use his or her pre-trial silence as probative of the defendant’s innocence and leave the trier of fact with a false or misleading impression,” wrote Judge Terry Crone.

The COA also upheld his sentence, noting Ludack was in a position of trust when he molested M.E., had a lengthy criminal history, and that the molestations appeared to stop only because he was arrested.

 

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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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