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COA overturns conviction, ruling statements about age not relevant for treatment

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A Marion County man had his conviction overturned after the Indiana Court of Appeals found a social worker’s statements about his age were hearsay because they were not made specifically for a medical purpose.

Verdyer Clark was convicted of battery as a Class D felony pursuant to I.C. 35-42-2-1(a)(2)(B) which requires the state prove the battery resulted in bodily injury to a person less than 14-years-old and was committed by a person at least 18-years-old.

As evidence of Clark’s age, the state offered two documents prepared by a social worker who interviewed Deanna Drain, the mother of the injured infant. One document, “Preliminary Report of Alleged Child Abuse or Neglect,” listed Clark as “Other Person Responsible for Child(ren)” and showed his age as 23. The other document, “Social Work ED Assessment Plan Final Report,” noted the “Mother has a boyfriend of 9 months Verdyer Clark age 23.”

Clark appealed on the grounds the state did not prove its case because the only evidence it offered that he was over 18 at the time of the crime was inadmissible hearsay. The COA agreed in Verdyer Clark v. State of Indiana, 49A04-1202-CR-66. It reversed and remanded so the state could decide whether to retry Clark.

The state asserted the social worker’s statements were admissible under Evidence Rule 803(4) which excludes from the hearsay rule statements for the purposes of medical diagnosis and treatment.

However, the COA dismissed that argument, finding it was not apparent that the social worker made the statement about Clark’s age for the purpose of receiving medical diagnosis or treatment.

Citing State v. Velasquez, 944 N.E.2d 34, 40 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), the court noted that in order for statements to be admissible under Evidence Rule 803(4), they need not be in furtherance of diagnosis and treatment. Rather, the statements must be relied on either to render a diagnosis or provide treatment.
 
Consequently, the court found the evidence of Clark’s age was not “reasonably pertinent” to the diagnosis or treatment of the infant victim. The information about Clark’s age had no apparent relevance to a diagnosis of the child’s injuries, so the social worker’s statements were not admissible under the Rule 803(4) hearsay exception.

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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