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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. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  2. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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  4. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

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