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COA reverses public intox conviction based on potential danger

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The state’s claim that a man’s public intoxication conviction should stand because of possible danger he faced if he left an apartment complex while intoxicated was rejected by the Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday because the argument was merely speculative.

Police responded to two calls at an apartment complex indicating that Clyde Davis and another man had been fighting. After the first call, police noted Davis had been drinking, but concluded he could safely walk home. But Davis didn’t leave and the next morning, police came back after the second call and found Davis standing outside the building in a grassy common area. Police believed he was extremely intoxicated and concerned that if he tried to walk home, he could be struck by a car on the busy road. Officers arrested him and he was charged with and convicted of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.

Davis argued that the state failed to prove he endangered the lives of himself or others for purposes of the public intoxication statute, as recently amended. The appeals judges reviewed several cases that deal with the new statute, including the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Thang v. State, to determine the common thread in these cases is past or present conduct by the defendant did or did not place life in danger.

“While the statute does not require that actual harm or injury occur, some action by the defendant constituting endangerment of the life of the defendant or another person must be shown. This is true even where an officer testifies that the defendant was a danger to himself or others,” Judge James Kirsch wrote. “Were it otherwise, citizens could be convicted for possible, future conduct. The policy behind the current public intoxication statute is to encourage intoxicated persons to avoid danger by walking or catching a ride rather than driving. Although we acknowledge that intoxicated persons may also create danger by walking in public places, that danger must have manifested itself in order for the State to obtain a conviction.”

In this case, there was no evidence Davis was in danger. The state argued that he was in danger of being struck by a car if he left the apartment complex, but that is just speculative and not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The State may not convict Davis for what would or could have happened,” Kirsch wrote in Clyde Davis v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1311-CR-938.



 

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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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