ILNews

Court examines 'judge' definition

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Appeals Court today upheld the convictions and sentence of man who sent threatening letters to the Marion County Prosecutors Office, a judge, and commissioner after being ordered to have no contact.

To be clear in its decision, the appellate court delved into the definition of "judge" and determined the term does include a county commissioner who handles legal matters for the court.

In Allen Montgomery v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0703-CR-188, Montgomery appealed his two Class D felony convictions for intimidation and 11 Class A misdemeanor convictions for invasion of privacy. Montgomery was convicted of impersonating a public servant and was placed on probation. As a part of the probation, he was ordered to not have any contact with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office unless it was to report a crime.

A week after he was placed on probation, Montgomery went before Master Commissioner Nancy Broyles regarding an alleged probation violation on a separate incident. Marion Superior Judge Grant Hawkins appointed Commissioner Broyles and assigned her duties, including hearing jury trials.

Commissioner Broyles revoked Montgomery's probation and ordered him to serve four years in the Indiana Department of Correction. From there, Montgomery sent letters to the prosecutor's office, none of which reported crimes. He also sent a letter to Commissioner Broyles saying he found her home address online and he hated to see something happen to her. Montgomery sent a letter to Judge Hawkins, telling him protecting Commissioner Broyles would be "an exercise in futility."

Montgomery was convicted of intimidation and invasion of privacy; he was also deemed a habitual offender. His intimidation charges were amended to Class D felonies because of his threats to a judge. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of 7 1/2 years, which included an enhancement of 4 1/2 years for being a habitual offender.

On appeal, Montgomery argued his Class D conviction for threatening a judge was in error because Commissioner Broyles is not a judge as is defined by the code that defines intimidation.

But the court disagreed, with Judge Nancy Vaidik writing that Commissioner Broyles was appointed by a Superior Court judge to hear and decide legal matters in the court - how a judge is defined in Black's Law Dictionary. Therefore, sufficient evidence exists to support the Class D felony convictions, she wrote.

Montgomery believed his convictions for invasion of privacy also violated his state and federal constitutional rights, but Montgomery never raised on appeal the issue that the no-contact order with the prosecutor's office put a restraint on his "politically expressive speech." The appellate court did not address this issue because Montgomery didn't attempt to appeal that issue at the time it was imposed.

As far as Montgomery's sentence, the appellate court found the trial court was well within statutory rights to enhance his sentence for being a habitual offender, and given the nature of his offenses and his character, his sentence was appropriate.
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  1. 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?

  2. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  3. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

  4. My dear Smith, I was beginning to fear, from your absense, that some Obrien of the Nanny State had you in Room 101. So glad to see you back and speaking truth to power, old chum.

  5. here is one from Reason magazine. these are not my words, but they are legitimate concerns. http://reason.com/blog/2010/03/03/fearmongering-at-the-splc quote: "The Southern Poverty Law Center, which would paint a box of Wheaties as an extremist threat if it thought that would help it raise funds, has issued a new "intelligence report" announcing that "an astonishing 363 new Patriot groups appeared in 2009, with the totals going from 149 groups (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias) -- a 244% jump." To illustrate how dangerous these groups are, the Center cites some recent arrests of right-wing figures for planning or carrying out violent attacks. But it doesn't demonstrate that any of the arrestees were a part of the Patriot milieu, and indeed it includes some cases involving racist skinheads, who are another movement entirely. As far as the SPLC is concerned, though, skinheads and Birchers and Glenn Beck fans are all tied together in one big ball of scary. The group delights in finding tenuous ties between the tendencies it tracks, then describing its discoveries in as ominous a tone as possible." --- I wonder if all the republicans that belong to the ISBA would like to know who and why this outfit was called upon to receive such accolades. I remember when they were off calling Trent Lott a bigot too. Preposterous that this man was brought to an overwhelmingly republican state to speak. This is a nakedly partisan institution and it was a seriously bad choice.

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