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COA revises child molesting sentence

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a man's convictions of child molesting, but reduced his sentence because he can't be considered among the worst offenders to justify the maximum sentence.

In Paul L. Mishler v. State, No. 20A03-0712-CR-577, Paul Mishler appealed his convictions of two counts of molesting his girlfriend's grade-school age daughter and his 50-year aggregate sentence. Mishler argued his victim's pretrial statements and videotaped interview shouldn't have been admitted into trial because they were inadmissible under the Protected Person Statute and he didn't have the opportunity to confront the accuser. 

The Court of Appeals disagreed, finding the child's pretrial statements and videotaped interview did fall under the Protected Person Statute because nothing suggests the child was coached into giving her statements and she made the statements within hours after the allegations of the crime came to light, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

Mishler's argument that he was denied his right to confront the victim fails because the victim testified at the Protected Person hearing, at Mishler's trial, and was available for cross-examination. The ruling in Crawford v. Washington, 124 S.Ct. 1354 (2004), only applies to a non-testifying witness' out-of-court testimonial statement, wrote the chief judge.

The appellate court found the sentence to be inappropriate given the nature of the offenses and Mishler's character. The sentencing range for a Class A felony is 20 to 50 years in prison, with the maximum sentence generally being reserved for the worst offenders. Mishler was sentenced to 50 years in prison on both Class A child molesting counts, with the sentences to run concurrently. However, given the fact he has a limited criminal history and the amount of time that has passed since his juvenile adjudication in 1991 for three acts that would be child molesting if committed by an adult, the Court of Appeals can't categorize Mishler as one of the worst offenders, wrote Chief Judge Baker. The appellate court remanded the case to the trial court to revise the sentence to 38 years on each count to run concurrently.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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