ILNews

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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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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