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State didn’t prove woman took drug while on probation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the revocation of a Sullivan County woman’s probation, finding the state didn’t demonstrate that Michelle Orr Carpenter took a barbiturate while on probation.

Carpenter pleaded guilty to resisting law enforcement Oct. 4, 2012, and was placed on probation. She was prohibited from using any controlled substance without a prescription as a part of her probation terms. Five days after starting probation, she failed a drug test that showed she took phenobarbital. She did not have a prescription for that drug.

At a hearing on the probation violation, a pharmacist testified that phenobarbital can show up on a test up to three weeks after having ingested it. Carpenter said she had been prescribed the drug while an inpatient at a drug rehab center back in May, but said she never took it outside of her time at the facility.

The Court of Appeals reversed the probation revocation because there is no evidence she used the drug during the five days between her placement on probation and her drug test. Her probation officer did not give her a drug screen at the start of her probation to establish if any drugs were in her system. The state did not present any evidence of the amount or concentration of the drug it detected.

“Even when viewed most favorably to the State, the evidence here was in equipoise, and it was no more likely that Carpenter ingested phenobarbital during her probationary period than it was that she ingested it before her probationary period,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Michelle Orr Carpenter v. State of Indiana, 77A01-1306-CR-293.
 

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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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