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Court affirms student's convictions

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After examining the few Indiana decisions on tumultuous conduct in the context of sufficiency of evidence to support a disorderly conduct conviction, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed a high school student's conviction for behavior involving the dean of students. The high court also affirmed the student's battery conviction against the assistant principal.

In Christopher Bailey v. State of Indiana, No. 49S02-0812-CR-630, student Christopher Bailey appealed his battery and disorderly conduct convictions stemming from an incident at his high school, claiming insufficient evidence. The Court of Appeals agreed with Bailey and reversed his convictions, but the Supreme Court found sufficient evidence to support both convictions.

Assistant Principal Sarah Brewer told Bailey to pull up his pants during a morning breakfast service at the school; he refused and was upset. Brewer extended her arm to prevent Bailey from walking away and Bailey pushed through her arm with his body while keeping his hands at his side. Dean of Students Brian Knight saw this and came to confront Bailey about the situation. Bailey threw down his drink and coat, stepped toward Knight, and began yelling obscenities at him. The township school officer responded and Bailey backed away and left the cafeteria once he saw the officer. He was then arrested and convicted of Class B misdemeanor battery for his conduct with Brewer and Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct because of the incident with the dean.

Although Bailey contended he didn't knowingly touch Brewer, in his testimony he conceded that although he didn't touch her with his hands, he may have touched her with another part of his body, wrote Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. He also admitted to being angry during the incident. The state proved a knowing touching in a rude, insolent, or angry manner, the justice wrote.

The high court didn't have much precedent when it came to Bailey's conviction of disorderly conduct, in which the state had to prove he recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engaged in fighting or in tumultuous conduct. Bailey argued his actions with the dean didn't rise to the statutory definition of tumultuous conduct. The justices turned to Whitley v. State, 553 N.E.2d 511 (Ind. Ct. App. 1990), Gebherd v. State, 484 N.E.2d 45 (Ind. Ct. App. 1985), B.R. v. State, 823 N.E.2d 301 (Ind. Ct. App. 2005), and N.J. ex rel. Jackson v. Metropolitan School District of Washington Township, 879 N.E.2d 1192 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), for guidance on whether Bailey's actions support a disorderly conduct conviction.

The Supreme Court determined Bailey's conduct was similar to B.R.'s, a student who approached another student in anger and in the midst of a heated argument, pointed an open or unsheathed knife at the other student. The immediate danger of serious bodily injury only ended when the other student hit B.R. and left.

In the instant case, Bailey threw down his drink and coat, which could have been interpreted as freeing up his arms to fight with the dean, wrote the chief justice. In addition, he stepped toward the dean in an angry manner, with his fists clenched and yelling obscenities within inches of Knight's face.

"The record indicates Bailey backed away from Dean Knight only upon seeing Officer Hunter. It was reasonable for the trier of fact to conclude that, but for the officer's arrival, Bailey's conduct would have escalated," he wrote.

The trier of fact could reasonably infer that serious bodily injury would result had the police officer not arrived given Bailey's anger in approaching the dean, throwing his coat and drink, his verbal tirade, and his clenched fists.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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