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Court reaffirms 3-step test for in camera review

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The Indiana Court of Appeals doesn’t believe that its previous ruling regarding the in camera review of an organization’s documents relating to alleged molestation victims sends the message that it’s “open season” on the records of victim services providers.

On rehearing in Subpoena to Crisis Connection, Inc., State of Indiana v. Ronald Keith Fromme, No.19A05-0910-CR-602, Crisis Connection Inc., a nonprofit that provides services for domestic violence and sexual assault victims, challenged the appellate court’s July 15 decision affirming an order for an in camera review of documents from the nonprofit relating to alleged molestation victims of Ronald Keith Fromme. The issue was a matter of first impression that came before the court on interlocutory appeal.

The organization claimed the opinion didn’t require defendants to make any threshold showing before obtaining an in camera review of confidential records and wanted the court to adopt the standard in People v. Stanaway, 521 N.W.2d 557 (Mich. 1994). But the judges did determine what standard criminal defendants should meet and used the three-step test that determines what information is discoverable in criminal cases: particularity, relevance, and if those are met, then the trial court must grant the request unless there is a showing of “paramount interest” in non-disclosure, wrote Judge Terry Crone.  

Crisis Connection also argued the appellate court improperly found it conceded that Fromme met the particularity and materiality criteria when it said “Crisis Connection has not disputed those findings.” Judge Crone wrote that the court didn’t find Crisis Connection affirmatively ceded this point, just that it didn’t present an argument as to the validity of the trial court’s findings.

“Therefore, our opinion provides little detail as to what sort of showing would suffice to meet the particularity and materiality criteria. Crisis Connection expresses concern that this lack of detail will send the message to attorneys and trial courts ‘that open season has been declared on the records of victim services providers,’” he wrote.

The Court of Appeals disagreed because the judges didn’t think the opinion sends the message that meeting the first two requirements will be an easy task in every case.

“[T]his case simply has not presented us with an occasion to expand upon those parts of the three-step test. Because discovery disputes are almost always fact-sensitive, we decline to elaborate beyond the enunciation of the appropriate standard to be applied,” he wrote.

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  1. I grew up on a farm and live in the county and it's interesting that the big industrial farmers like Jeff Shoaf don't live next to their industrial operations...

  2. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  3. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  4. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  5. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

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