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COA reverses juvenile's exploitation adjudication

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a juvenile’s adjudication for exploiting an endangered adult because the state didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the 17-year-old took advantage of the mentally retarded man.

A.H. was adjudicated for committing what would be exploitation of an endangered adult, a Class A misdemeanor if committed by an adult, for getting Robert Barnhart to write her two checks for loans. Barnhart was diagnosed with “mental retardation,” has a very low IQ, can’t read or write, and is legally blind. He receives assistance from a developmental disabilities provider.

At the recommendation of her cousin, A.H. went to Barnhart and convinced him to write her a check for $750 so A.H. could bail her husband out of jail. She filled out the top part of the check and Barnhart signed it. The check was never cashed but she used it to get $750 from Charlie Matthews. She then got a loan to repay that $750 borrowed from Matthews. A.H. also got Barnhart to give her $100 by check so she could go to Indiana Beach. She then exchanged the check with Matthews for the cash. She did repay $25 of that loan to Barnhart. A.H. was charged after the developmental disabilities provider found discrepancies in Barnhart’s checking account.

The juvenile court ordered A.H. to the Department of Correction until she was 21 unless the DOC released her sooner.

That adjudication was an error, the Court of Appeals ruled in A.H. v. State of Indiana, No. 37A04-1002-JV-50, because the state didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that A.H. recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally exerted unauthorized use of the property of an endangered person for her own profit or for the profit of another person.

The appellate court noted Barnhart agreed to give her the loans, was never threatened, and A.H. had begun to repay the only outstanding loan.

“While Barnhart may have diminished capacity and A.H. prevailed against Barnhart, we do not believe that the State met its burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that A.H.’s use of Barnhart’s property was unauthorized,” wrote Judge Elaine Brown. “While we do not make a finding as to A.H.’s credibility and do not approve or condone A.H.’s action in obtaining money from Barnhart, we simply do not find the evidence sufficient to meet the burden of proof required by the statute.”
 

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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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