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COA: Just running red light not reckless

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Ruling on the issue for the first time, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that not stopping at an intersection cannot, without more evidence, constitute criminally reckless conduct and establish a prima facie case.

Sampson Boadi was charged with Class C felony reckless homicide, criminal recklessness resulting in serious bodily injury as a Class D felony, and criminal recklessness with a motor vehicle as a Class A felony after he ran a red light while driving his tractor trailer, and another motorist was killed while making a turn in the intersection. The trial court granted Boadi's motion for a directed verdict on the basis that the evidence showed he only ran a red light and the facts proven don't constitute a major element of recklessness in each of the crimes.

Although the issue in the case is now moot because of the acquittal, the appellate court addressed the issue in State of Indiana v. Sampson Boadi, No. 64A05-0807-CR-420, in hopes of providing guidance for future cases. The judges had to determine as a matter of law whether Boadi's failure to stop in time at the intersection was evidence of recklessness sufficient to withstand a motion for directed verdict.

The Court of Appeals couldn't find a criminal case addressing this issue but did find guidance in a civil action under the Automobile Guest Act, Becker v. Strater, 117 Ind. App. 504, 72 N.E.2d 580, 581 (1947). In Becker, a driver failed to stop at a stop sign and hit another car. The driver slowed down as he approached the intersection but had been looking at cattle on the side of the road and didn't see the other car. The Becker court ruled his conduct could be negligence, but not willful or wanton misconduct.

"This Court has previously found that a rule announced in actions under the Automobile Guest Act should apply in criminal cases as well because of the similarity in definition between 'recklessness' in the criminal context and 'wanton or willful misconduct' in the civil context," wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. The appellate court concluded pursuant to Becker, failing to stop at an intersection cannot, without more, constitute criminally reckless conduct.

There's no evidence of additional circumstances sufficient to satisfy the recklessness element of the charges against Boadi. He didn't accelerate toward the light; he drove toward it at below the posted speed limit; he wasn't driving erratically or under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and he wasn't fatigued or violating trucking regulations, the judge wrote.

"In sum, the evidence as a whole viewed in the light most favorable to the State shows that Boadi did not stop but instead proceeded through the intersection as the light turned green for the opposing traffic," she wrote. "Although this conduct might be evidence of inadvertence or an error in judgment, that is, negligence, such an error does not constitute criminal recklessness."

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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