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Consent not defense in battery case

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Because consent is not a defense to battery when a deadly weapon is used, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man's convictions of felony and misdemeanor battery on his girlfriend after branding her with a hot knife and hitting her with a cord.

In Morgan K. Govan v. State of Indiana, No. 02A03-0902-CR-55, Morgan Govan argued there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions because the charges arose out of sadomasochistic sexual practices to which his girlfriend consented. After she lied to Govan about cheating on him, she allowed him to tie her up and testified that she wanted him to hurt her. After touching her with a hot knife and hitting her on the back with an extension cord, she locked herself in the closet and tried to kill herself. After she failed, she told Govan she needed to get her paycheck. He drove her to work where she called police and stayed inside until Govan was in custody.

Both Govan and his girlfriend admitted they liked to do kinky things during sex, and he argued he branded and hit her because she asked him to.

The Court of Appeals cited Jaske v. State, 539 N.E.2d 14, 18 (Ind. 1989), in which the high court held a victim's consent is not a defense to battery, and Helton v. State, 624 N.E.2d 499, 515 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993), when the appellate court found there could be some instances where consent could be a defense to the charge of battery. The ruling noted that consent is ordinarily a defense to the charge of battery in cases involving sexual overtones; it also listed the circumstances in which consent couldn't be defense to battery, including when the use of a deadly weapon is employed.

Even though the instant case has sexual overtones, because Govan used a deadly weapon, his girlfriend's consent isn't a defense, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik. The jury was free to conclude based on the evidence that the girlfriend didn't consent to being beaten with the extension cord or branded with a hot knife, so the appellate court declined to determine whether Govan's actions fell under any of the other Helton categories.

"In such a highly charged domestic case as this, the jury is in the best position to make credibility determinations. We will neither reweigh evidence nor assess witness credibility," she wrote.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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