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Justices take 3 cases

December 20, 2010


The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer to three cases, including one of first impression involving Indiana’s victim-advocate privilege.

In the case In Re Subpoena to Crisis Connection Inc., State of Indiana v. Ronald Keith Fromme, No. 19S05-1012-CR-678, the Indiana Court of Appeals explored the scope of Indiana’s victim-advocate privilege and declined to hold the privilege is absolute. The judges decided a three-step test should be applied to determine whether information is discoverable in a criminal case. They believed it provided a useful framework for balancing a victim’s privacy with a defendant’s constitutional rights.

Crisis Connection, a group that works with domestic violence and sexual assault victims, didn’t believe it should have to turn over records to the court for an in camera review in Ronald Keith Fromme’s criminal case. He was charged with felony child molesting and sought all records relating to his two alleged victims and their mothers.

The Court of Appeals upheld their decision on rehearing, holding that their earlier opinion allowing the in camera review of Crisis Connection’s documents doesn’t send the message that it’s “open season” on the records of victim services providers.

The justices took J.M. v. M.A., et al., No. 20S04-1012-CV-676, in which the Court of Appeals ordered the trial court to vacate its order adjudicating J.M. as the legal father of W.H. and ordering him to pay child support. Because the state conceded that J.M. isn’t W.H.’s biological father, the judges ordered the trial court to set aside the paternity affidavit.

The Supreme Court also accepted Joshua Konopasek v. State of Indiana, No. 25S03-1012-CR-669. The Court of Appeals affirmed Konopasek’s Class C felony conviction of battery causing serious bodily injury. The judges ruled that while evidence about his criminal record shouldn’t have been admitted, any error was harmless, and the state’s evidence was sufficient to prove battery and disprove Konopasek’s claim of self defense.

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