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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. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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