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COA affirms 5 child molesting convictions

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The admission of testimony by a licensed clinical psychologist at a man’s child molestation trial in Steuben County was not a fundamental error, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

David E. Lyons appealed his five convictions of Class A felony child molesting related to incidents with his niece in 2004 through 2006 when the girl was around 10 years old. In 2010, after developing a number of emotional problems, K.F. told nurses at a hospital that her uncle had been molesting her.

At Lyons’ jury trial in 2011, Dr. Judith Williams, a licensed clinical psychologist with extensive experience counseling child victims of sexual abuse, testified on behalf of the state. While she had counseled K.F. for a short period of time, her testimony was not specifically related to K.F.’s treatment and, instead, was about general characteristics, mannerisms, and behaviors common among child abuse victims.

Lyons only objected once to part of her testimony, so on appeal, he brought a fundamental error challenge. He claimed that his convictions should be reversed because Williams based her responses on speculation.

In David E. Lyons v. State of Indiana, 76A03-1112-CR-582, the judges found Lyons mistakenly contended that Williams’ testimony was “scientific testimony” and is governed by Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993).  However, Williams’ testimony was actually “specialized knowledge,” under Ind. Evidence Rule 702(a), and any weakness or problems in the testimony only go to the weight of the testimony, not to its admissibility.

Williams’ testimony was about matters commonly observed in sexual abuse victims based on her own practice and in psychological literature. Lyons was free to cross-examine her regarding studies she cited, but did not, Judge John Baker wrote.

The judges also disagreed with Lyons’ assertion that the admission of Williams’ testimony violates the principles set forth in Steward v. State, 652 N.E.2d 490 (Ind. 1995). Admission of her testimony was not a fundamental error, and Lyons’ convictions and 150-year sentence is affirmed.

 

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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