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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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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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