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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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