ILNews

Court erred in admitting child's videotaped statement

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A trial court improperly allowed a videotaped statement by a victim of child molesting into evidence instead of having the child participate in live direct examination, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today in its reversal of a man’s molesting convictions.

Larry Cox appealed his convictions of 10 counts of Class A felony child molesting and five counts of Class C felony child molesting. The son of Cox’s ex-girlfriend claimed Cox had molested him. The son, D.H., was interviewed by the Tippecanoe County Prosecutor’s Office, and the interview was videotaped. The state was allowed to introduce the videotape into evidence, over Cox’s objection, instead of questioning D.H. on direct examination. He was subject to cross-examination.

Admitting the videotaped interview was an error, the appellate court concluded after examining the Protected Person Statute and Tyler v. State, 903 N.E.2d 463 (Ind. 2009). In Tyler, the Indiana Supreme Court held that testimony of a protected person may be presented in court or by pre-recorded statement through the PPS but not both except as authorized by the Indiana Rules of Evidence.

The state and trial court thought they were complying with Tyler by not allowing D.H. to give direct testimony on the stand and letting him be cross-examined, but that violated the spirit and general principles announced in Tyler, wrote Judge Michael Barnes in Larry Cox v. State of Indiana,  No. 79A04-0912-CR-741.

The Tyler court emphasized that a videotaped interview should only be introduced after considering if the child will be traumatized by testifying in open court. It found that if a child is sufficiently mature to testify in open court, then there is no need to resort to the Protected Person Statute.

“Of course, the procedure employed by the trial court here did not raise the specter of unfairly prejudicial cumulative evidence bolstering the in-court testimony of an alleged molestation victim,” wrote the judge. “Still, our system of justice clearly prefers live, in-court testimony given under oath, as evidenced in part by the Confrontation Clause and the hearsay rule.”

The appellate court found the introduction of the videotape to be a reversible error because there was no trial testimony regarding the charged crimes and any statement D.H. made on the stand wasn’t made under any kind of oath.

They also held that Cox may be retried and remanded for further proceedings.
 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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