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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. Such things are no more elections than those in the late, unlamented Soviet Union.

  2. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  3. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  4. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  5. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

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