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COA split on whether judge can order community service in lieu of fines

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Two judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals decided that a trial judge didn’t have statutory authority to order an indigent woman to perform community service instead of paying fines and costs of her case, ordering the court to address the issue of imposing fees and costs.

Amanda Vaughn agreed to plead guilty to Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass, and her plea gave Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown discretion as to fines and costs. The court found Vaughn to be indigent and ordered community service in lieu of fines and costs. She later sought the fine instead, which the judge imposed as $165 in costs and $10 in fines. But after Vaughn filed a motion to reconsider, the trial court vacated the order Vaughn pay and again ordered 40 hours of community service, but she would not be jailed for failing to perform the service.

Vaughn argued that the trial court didn’t have the authority under the plea agreement to impose community service. The Court of Appeals decided it had to determine whether ordering community service in lieu of fines and costs is statutorily authorized.

In Amanda Vaughn v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-CR-544, judges Michael Barnes and Patricia Riley found there to be a lack of statutory authority, finding the statutes the state cited in support of the judge to be irrelevant in this case. In remanding the case they reminded the trial court that the Indiana Supreme Court has held “when fines or costs are imposed upon an indigent defendant, such a person may not be imprisoned for failure to pay the fines or costs.”

Judge John Baker disagreed, believing the trial court may exercise its discretion by suspending fines and costs and that ordering Vaughn to perform community services instead was reasonable. He also disagreed with his colleagues that the statutes cited by the state don’t support the ability to impose community service instead of fines and costs.

 

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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