COA declines ruling on constitutionality of plan

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The Indiana Court of Appeals declined to address the constitutionality of a Department of Correction program for sex offenders based on the deficient record before it and because the appellate court could decide the case without ruling on the constitutionality of the program.

The Indiana Public Defender Council and State of Indiana, which together filed a brief of amici curiae, urged the court to examine the constitutionality of the DOC's Sex Offender Management and Monitory Treatment Plan (SOMM).

In State of Indiana and Indiana Department of Correction v. Timothy Moore,  No. 29A02-0811-CR-1039, Timothy Moore appealed based on the application of Indiana Trial Rules in his case. He was found guilty of child molesting and was required to participate in SOMM and a Sex Offender Containment and Accountability Program. Both required him to admit guilt and take polygraph tests. Moore had reservations about these parts of the programs because he maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings and had a pending petition for post-conviction relief. Moore worried the tests would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The DOC demoted his credit class, prohibited him from completing his GED requirement, and changed his visitation rights as a result of Moore's unwillingness to take the polygraph tests or admit guilt. He filed a motion for restoration of his credit time and DOC privileges; the trial court granted his motion after it didn't receive a response from the DOC to the motion within 45 days. Later the DOC's motion to intervene and correct error was granted.

The issue in this case is whether Moore raised a challenge to only the disciplinary actions or whether his challenge is rooted in the Fifth Amendment. His motion did challenge the deprivation of rights and various privileges, but his attorney had previously challenged the deprivation of his Fifth Amendment right under the DOC's SOMM policies, wrote Senior Judge John Sharpnack.

"DOC cannot violate a prisoner's constitutional right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, impose sanctions because the prisoner asserts his rights, and then hide behind the shibboleth of 'no review of prison disciplinary matters,'" wrote the judge. "We conclude that the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction to review the deprivation of Moore's credit time and privileges after such deprivation occurred pursuant to Moore's claim of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination."

The Court of Appeals agreed with the DOC argument that its appeal from the trial court's belated grant of its motion to correct error was valid based on Homeq Servicing Corp. v. Baker, 883 N.E.2d 95 (Ind. 2008), and Cavinder Elevators, Inc. v. Hall, 726 N.E.2d 285, 289 (Ind. 2000). However, the motion was entirely premised on the trial court's alleged lack of subject matter jurisdiction; but because it did have subject matter jurisdiction, the trial court erroneously granted DOC's motion to correct errors, wrote Senior Judge Sharpnack.

The appellate court also ruled DOC wasn't denied due process because it received notice in sufficient time to intervene and be heard.

The IDPC wanted the Court of Appeals to develop a "bright line" rule pertaining to the DOC's implementation of SOMM, but the appellate court declined. In a footnote, Senior Judge Sharpnack wrote that it appears the SOMM is similar to programs found unconstitutional in other states. But because of the deficient record before it and because the case could be decided on a clear nonconstitutional basis, the appellate court declined to rule on the constitutionality of the program.

The case was remanded with instructions the trial court vacate its grant of the motion to correct error and reinstate the original order in favor of Moore.


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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.