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Court split on mother's battery conviction

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In a split decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals, the majority upheld a mother's conviction of battery against her daughter, but one judge felt her conviction had to be overturned in light of a recent Indiana Supreme Court decision.

In Janella Matthew v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-0801-CR-17, Court of Appeals Judges Margret Robb and Patricia Riley affirmed Janella Matthew's Class A misdemeanor battery conviction against her 12-year-old daughter, J.M.

The daughter had misbehaved all day and hit her brother in the face, cursed at her mother, and then locked herself in the bathroom. Matthew got into the bathroom, hit J.M. on her legs and arm with a closed fist, and later hit the daughter several more times with her fist and a belt. She even tried to remove a blanket J.M. was wearing to get a better shot at her daughter with a belt. J.M. later testified the blows from her mother hurt.

The state presented sufficient evidence to prove that Matthew was guilty of battery against her daughter and found her actions toward her daughter didn't constitute reasonable corporate punishment. Matthew's repeated hitting of J.M. with a belt and a closed fist was not reasonable, Judge Robb wrote.

Chief Judge John Baker dissented in a separate opinion, finding that in light of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Willis v. State, No. 888 N.E.2d, 177, 180 (Ind. 2008), the Court of Appeals should have reversed her conviction. Although he agrees in principle with the result reached by the majority, the facts of the Willis case and the instant case are similar, he said. Both children were repeatedly warned by their parents to stop misbehaving and used progressive forms of discipline before resorting to striking their children repeatedly.

The chief judge agrees that the Supreme Court's decision constitutes a change in Indiana's policy toward child abuse, and even writes in a footnote that it's troubling that Indiana is headed in such a direction of allowing corporal punishment without directive from the legislature to do so.

While Chief Judge Baker wrote the trial courts in both cases concluded the mothers went beyond the boundary of reasonableness, the Supreme Court has instructed the appellate court to second-guess those conclusions as a matter of law. As such, he believes the court is compelled to reverse Matthew's conviction in light of Willis.

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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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