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COA affirms trial courts in truant kindergartner cases

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has sided with the trial courts in two cases that have been consolidated in one appeal in determining that referral and attendance records for truant students were admissible at trial under the state’s business records exception.

In Alesha Houston and Donna Gruzinsky v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1101-CR-77, Alesha Houston’s child had 27 unexcused absences from kindergarten between Aug. 14, 2009 and April 23, 2010. Donna Gruzinsky’s child, who attended a different school, had 26 unexcused absences and was tardy 45 times between Aug. 11, 2009, and April 20, 2010. Both women were served with notices of failure to ensure school attendance as a Class B misdemeanor.

Gruzinsky argued that referral and attendance records were not admissible at trial under hearsay rules, because the attendance officer had no personal knowledge of her child’s absences. She further contended the referral records could not have been prepared in the regular course of business and therefore should not have been admitted under the business records exception.

The appeals court held that the records were admissible under the business records exception, which does not require personal knowledge of the events, and that part of the forms were completed during business hours.

Houston argued that she received ineffective counsel because her attorney did not object to the admission of referral and attendance records. The appeals court held that even if Houston’s attorney had objected, the objection would not have been sustained.

The appellate court held that in both cases, the state laid a proper foundation for the evidence admitted under the business records exception. Therefore, the evidence was not hearsay, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting it into evidence.  
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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