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Court reverses felony convictions stemming from domestic incident

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The state didn’t provide sufficient evidence to support convictions of Class D felony strangulation and domestic battery, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday. The court did order the domestic battery conviction entered as a Class A misdemeanor.

Blanca Medrano took her infant child with her across the street from the apartment she shared with James Young and their two children. She was crying and had minor injuries, so firefighters asked her what was wrong. She told them that her husband had beaten her about 15 minutes ago and left with their other child. The firefighters called police, and an hour later, Elkhart City Police Corporal Laurie Stuff arrived. She interviewed Medrano, who at that point was no longer crying and seemed antsy to leave.

Stuff also saw bruising and redness on Medrano’s neck and saw the bandage put on her hand by the firefighters. Young arrived shortly after Stuff. Stuff spoke to him and Young said he and Medrano had gotten into a verbal argument. He was arrested and charged with Class D felony strangulation, based on what Medrano told Stuff; and Class D felony domestic battery, elevated from a misdemeanor because children were believed to be present.

Young was convicted of both counts. Medrano did not testify and could not be found for the trial, so the firefighters and Stuff testified regarding Medrano’s prior statements.

Young argues that even though Medrano’s statements to the firefighters were excited utterances, in this case, her statements violate his constitutional rights under the Sixth Amendment.

“…we hold that the primary purpose of the firefighters’ questioning of Medrano was to enable public, government assistance to Medrano in an ongoing emergency rather than to prove past events potentially relevant to future criminal prosecution. Therefore, the admission of Medrano’s statements to the firefighters did not violate Young’s confrontation rights under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Judge Paul Mathias wrote in James O. Young v. State of Indiana, 20A04-1112-CR-699.

The judges found that Medrano’s statements to Stuff were not an excited utterance as it had been nearly an hour before Stuff spoke to Medrano after the alleged battery, she was antsy to leave, and had stopped crying at some point. Stuff’s testimony that Medrano said Young had strangled her was the only evidence to support Young’s conviction. The judges reversed but found he could be subject to retrial on the charge.

There also isn’t sufficient evidence to show that the battery happened in front of the children, the judges found, so they ordered Young’s Class D felony domestic battery conviction reduced to a Class A misdemeanor.

 

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  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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