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COA reverses child welfare molestation case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has tossed out the convictions and 106-year sentence of a former Hamilton County child welfare worker accused of molesting two boys, including an autistic boy who he'd mentored.

In a 19-page decision in Cory Heinzman v. State of Indiana, No. 29A04-0710-CR-553, the court ruled 2-1 to reverse and remand the case on its official misconduct aspect regarding one victim.

Heinzman was a Department of Child Services caseworker from 2002 until the accusations surfaced in May 2005. A then-13-year-old autistic boy's mother called a hospital to report that Heinzman had molested her son during an eight-month period, and another teenager came forward after that to make similar accusations. A jury in June 2007 found him guilty on 16 counts of official misconduct and various sexual offenses involving minors and acquitted him of four. Hamilton Superior Judge Daniel Pfleging sentenced him to 106½ years.

The appellate majority didn't find a clear error in the trial court's decision not to sever the trial and that no error existed by not changing venue. But the court found that Heinzman established prima facie error in his convictions of official misconduct regarding the autistic boy, as there was no evidence that he was performing any "official duties" when the offenses against that minor were committed.

Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, writing a separate six-page opinion that says she'd affirm the convictions and that she departs from her colleagues on the question of whether Heinzman's crimes against that minor relate to the performance of official duties.

She determined the majority improperly reweighed evidence in reaching the result and that the jury believed Heinzman had continued working with the autistic boy's family in a manner related to his Child Protective Services employment throughout spring 2005 when those inappropriate interactions occurred. Checking on the boy's needs fit into those official responsibilities as a family case manager, the judge wrote.

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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