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COA tackles 2 issues of first impression

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The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed two new issues in a child solicitation and prostitution case regarding authenticating emails and text messages and whether the defendant’s actions actually constituted a crime.

Matthew Pavlovich appealed his convictions of Class D felony child solicitation and Class A misdemeanor patronizing a prostitute. The charges stem from his interactions with S.Y. and her now-husband and “pimp,” Bradford Pugh. Pavlovich communicated with S.Y. through the email “golfnutmi” and a cell phone with the last four digits 2662.

When he met with S.Y. to have sex with her, S.Y. mentioned she had a 9-year-old sister, P.Y. Pavlovich suggested S.Y. and P.Y. perform sex acts on each other. S.Y. and Pugh went to police with the texts and emails Pavlovich sent regarding P.Y. He was eventually charged and convicted based on those communications.

His appeal, Matthew Pavlovich v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1308-CR-715, brings up two issues of first impression. The first is the admissibility of text or email messages where there is a complete lack of technological or documentary evidence linking a party to a particular cell number or email address. The phone Pavlovich used is registered under a different name to an address in the middle of the highway. There is also no evidence connecting Pavlovich to the email address except for when he gave it to S.Y.

The appellate court ruled the circumstantial evidence is sufficient to authenticate the texts and emails as being authorized by Pavlovich, so they were properly introduced into evidence and authenticated as being written by him. S.Y. testified that Pavlovich was the man who hired her and had sex with her on the date, she recognized his voice and that they communicated through that number and email.

Pavlovich was entitled to – and did – argue that there was insufficient evidence that he wrote the messages, but the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting them into evidence.

The case also presents for the first time the question of whether it is a crime under Ind. Code 35-42-4-6(b), the statute governing child solicitation, for a person to direct communications to an intermediary who the person believes is passing the communications on to the child or is acting on behalf of the child.

“Certainly communicating through an intermediary, as was done here, satisfies the ‘any other means’ method of child solicitation,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote in the majority opinion.

The majority affirmed his convictions.

Judge Michael Barnes dissented on this issue, disagreeing that Pavlovich completed the act of child solicitation under the circumstances of this case. He pointed out that he never directly communicated with P.Y., instead, urged S.Y. to urge P.Y. to engage in a sex act with her, but S.Y. never did so. As such, no illicit communications ever reached a child under 14 years old or a person pretending to be a child, so the child solicitation conviction must be reversed.

 

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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