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. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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