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COA affirms perjury, misconduct convictions against children's caseworker

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that that a closed hearing on a juvenile proceeding was admissible as evidence in the perjury trial of an Indiana Department of Child Services caseworker.

In Gayle D. Edelen v. State of Indiana, No.26A01-1007-CR-362, Gayle Edelen claimed that her testimony in a closed juvenile proceeding should have been confidential. But the appeals court – citing Indiana Code sections 31-39-1-1(a)(1) and -2 – ruled that the testimony was admissible in Edelen’s perjury trial because it involved an adult charged with a crime.

Gibson Circuit Judge Jeffrey Meade ordered the closed hearing in November 2008 after attorney Lisa Moody filed a motion with his court for a change in placement for her client, M.D., a minor. Moody informed the court that after M.D. fled Life Choices, a placement facility in Evansville, she had been held for one month without a hearing at Southwest Indiana Regional Youth Village of Vincennes (SIRYV), an emergency shelter. Judge Meade had ordered that M.D. should be taken to SIRYV when she was found, but his policy – consistent with Indiana Code Section 31-34-5-1 – was that M.D. should not be held more than 48 hours without a hearing.

Local law enforcement had found M.D. on October 9, 2008, and taken her to SIRYV. On October 17, Edelen asked fellow caseworker Amy Ellis to check on M.D., which she did. M.D. repeatedly asked Ellis the date of the next scheduled hearing, and Ellis told her she would check with Edelen. On November 5, M.D. contacted Moody to tell her she was still being held at SIRYV.

In the closed hearing, Moody asked Edelen if she had ever informed the court that M.D. had been found. Edelen said that she had told Judge Meade on October 9 when he was walking out of chambers – a claim the judge would later contradict during Edelen’s jury trial.

The Indiana Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation of M.D.’s 30-day stay at the emergency shelter. As a result of the investigation, the state filed information against Edelen in Gibson Superior Court, alleging that she had committed three acts of perjury at the November 2008 hearing and an additional act of official misconduct for committing her alleged perjury while testifying in her official capacity.

During her jury trial in June 2010, Judge Meade said Edelen had never informed him M.D. had been found after fleeing Life Choices. He also expressly contradicted her testimony on two other occasions.

The Court of Appeals also cited Indiana Code Section 35-44-1-2(1) in affirming Edelen’s conviction for misconduct, stating she knowingly made a false statement under oath.
 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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