COA rejects declaratory relief petition challenging molestation convictions

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A southern Indiana man cannot seek declaratory relief after he was convicted on multiple counts of child molesting because the Indiana Court of Appeals found his challenge to be an attempt to circumvent Indiana’s established appellate procedures.

In James E. Saylor v. State of Indiana, 39A01-1701-MI-90, Saylor was found guilty in 2007 of two counts of Class A felony child molesting, one count of Class B felony vicarious sexual gratification and one count of Class D felony intimidation. He also pleaded guilty to a habitual offender charge and was sentenced to an aggregate of 138 years.

Saylor’s 2014 petition for post-conviction relief was denied by the Jefferson Circuit Court, and the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed on all counts except for the habitual offender adjudication, finding he did not personally waive his right to a jury trial on that count. The habitual offender adjudication was vacated, and the case was remanded for a new trial on that count.

A few months after the Court of Appeals ruling, Saylor filed a petition for declaratory judgment that challenged the existence of probable cause for his arrest. Specifically, Saylor sought a declaratory judgment that said absent a valid showing of probable cause, he had a right to immediate release.

The state moved for summary judgment on the pleadings, and the trial court granted that motion. Saylor then appealed pro se, claiming that the trial court erred by granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings without first hold an evidentiary hearing.

But in a Wednesday opinion, Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Edward Najam wrote the state moved for judgment on the pleadings without reference to any outside matters, so the court accepts as true the material facts alleged in the complaint. Further, the Rule 12(C) motion is treated as a Rule 12(B)(6) motion, so the court looks at the face of the complaint and, thus, is not required to hold an evidentiary hearing, Najam said.

Saylor also challenged the merits of the trial court’s order granting the motion for judgment on the pleadings, but Najam wrote there was no error in the order and that “(i)t is clear from the face of Saylor’s complaint that under no circumstances could the relief he sought be granted.”

Specifically, Saylor’s complaint sought declarations as to his “right” to immediate release, but Najam wrote any further challenge to the judgment in Saylor’s criminal case must be made through a successive petition for post-conviction relief. However, Saylor has not been authorized to file a successive petition, but instead “is attempting to circumvent Indiana’s established procedures for challenging criminal convictions”, the judge wrote.

Saylor, however, argued that he only sought a declaration of his rights, not a challenge of his convictions, but the appellate panel found Saylor’s challenge clearly addressed his convictions and that the relief he sought is not available under the Uniform Declaratory Judgments Act. Thus, Saylor’s convictions were affirmed.  



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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: Here are the two research papers: 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.