Court rules on 'nude in front yard' case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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Though the front yard of your home may not be considered a "public place," state law prohibits you from standing there naked because that nudity would be visible from a public street or sidewalk, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Chad A. Weideman v. State of Indiana, No. 87A01-0801-CR-51, a unanimous three-judge panel determined that Indiana's public nudity statute, Indiana Code Section 35-45-4-1.5(c), is not unconstitutionally vague, but the state failed to present sufficient evidence to prove that a Warrick County man committed public nudity.

Weideman was charged with the Class B misdemeanor following an incident June 10, 2006. Two neighbors went out to their vehicle after dark and saw Weideman standing nude in his front yard near their fence. Shining the truck headlights at him, they saw Weideman with a look of panic or surprise on his face and he immediately dropped to the ground and rolled into a nearby ditch, then crawled back to his property. The neighbors called police and Weideman was later charged, found guilty at a bench trial, and sentenced to a year of probation.

On appeal, Weideman argued the public nudity statute was unconstitutional because the term "public place" is ambiguous or vague, so much so that "a reasonable person would not be apprised that he could not be nude under the cover of darkness in the front yard of his private residence."

The state statute provides that "a person who knowingly or intentionally appears in a public place in a state of nudity with the intent to be seen by another person commits a Class B misdemeanor." In analyzing the statute and terminology, the court opted to use a definition used by the Indiana Supreme Court in the context of the former public indecency statute of 1979 - that it means "any place where the public is invited or free to go upon special or implied invitation; a place available to all or a certain segment of the public."

While he wasn't standing in a public place when seen, Weideman did appear nude in a place where the public could see him, the court concluded.

"We conclude that the public nudity statute prohibits knowingly or intentionally being visibly nude to persons in a public place," Judge Patricia Riley wrote. "This would include being nude in your front yard or neighbor's front yard if you are visible to a sidewalk or road. Further, we conclude that the statute provides notice enabling ordinary people to understand the conduct that it prohibits, and it does not encourage arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement."

However, the court did agree with Weideman on a point that the state didn't provide sufficient evidence that he had a specific intent to be seen nude. The court reversed his conviction and instructed the trial court to enter a new judgment for a lesser misdemeanor charge, which provides for a sentence of up to 60 days.

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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.