ILNews

COA: Let a sex offender stipulate

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A convicted sex offender accused of failing to register will get a new trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

The unanimous three-judge panel in Darrick T. McClain v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-0808-CR-428, reversed and remanded McClain's jury trial conviction for failing to register as a sex offender, finding the Allen Superior Court abused its discretion.

Convicted of sexual battery in 1999, McClain was required to register with police and he did that in March 2007, listing his sister's Fort Wayne home as his new address. His sister later saw her address listed on the online sex offender registry and informed police that McClain wasn't living there; he was eventually charged.

At trial, he offered to stipulate to his sex offender status and to the fact that he'd listed his sister's home address on his registration form. But the state didn't agree, and entered into evidence over McClain's objection the registration form that also included details about his prior sex offense.

But turning to U.S. Supreme Court precedent in Old Chief v. United States, 519 U.S. 172, 190 (1997), the appellate panel found that the lower court should not have admitted the form into evidence because it was prejudicial. Not admitting it at trial would not have interfered with the state's ability to prove that McClain was a sex offender required to register - as he'd offered to stipulate.

"Here, we also find the reasoning in Old Chief applies and hold that McClain's offer to stipulate that he is a sex offender precludes admission of the registration form at trial," the court wrote. "The prejudicial impact of the details of his sexual battery conviction is clear, and that evidence has no probative value in relation to the instant offense."

Since several witnesses testified at trial that McClain was residing with his sister when he filled out the form, the court determined it couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the probable impact of the prejudicial evidence didn't affect the jury and McClain's rights.

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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