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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. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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