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COA affirms trial court in felony neglect case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a conviction of Class A felony neglect, holding the appellant was unable to prove that he should have been charged with a lesser offense.

In David L. Johnson, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 82A01-1103-CR-130, David Johnson claimed the trial court abused its discretion when it denied his request for jury instructions on lesser-included offenses. He also claimed that the court erred in admitting statements he made to a social worker and that he was a victim of prosecutorial vindictiveness.

A.J. was born to Johnson and Lori Record in September 2008. In January 2009, Johnson attended a voluntary counseling session with a social worker, whom he told he was concerned that he might become angry and hurt A.J. Personnel noticed a bruise on A.J.’s cheek and called child protective services to investigate, and a case manager subsequently ordered A.J. to be seen by a doctor and to have X-rays taken. An initial review of the X-rays showed no injuries.

On Feb. 9, 2009, A.J. died. A coroner found evidence of multiple injuries, and upon reexamining A.J.’s initial X-rays, a radiologist saw a fracture in A.J.’s clavicle. On April 7, the state charged Johnson with Class A felony neglect of a dependent. In 2010, Johnson agreed to plead guilty to a Class B felony neglect charge, but the trial court rejected that plea.  

The COA held that in order for Johnson to prove that he should have been charged with a lesser offense, he would need to prove a serious evidentiary dispute on the element of serious bodily injury. The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision to refuse Johnson’s proffered instructions on the lesser-included Class C and Class D felony offenses.

The appeals court also held that the court did not err in admitting a statement from the social worker whom Johnson met with prior to A.J.’s death, citing Indiana Evidence Rules 401 and 402.

Finally, the COA rejected Johnson’s assertion that he was a victim of prosecutorial vindictiveness, stating that precedent dictates actual vindictiveness occurs when a prosecutor’s charging decision was motivated by a desire to punish the defendant for something the law plainly allowed him to do.

 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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