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Editorial: Subpoenas for advocates raise concerns

Editorial Indiana Lawyer
January 19, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Editorial

In our culture, someone accused of a crime gets a vigorous defense to make certain all of the accused person’s constitutional rights are protected. This is as it should be. Those faced with the loss of their liberty or life deserve no less than the best defense that can be put forth.

That’s when the alleged perpetrator is actually accused.

In cases of domestic violence or sexual abuse, or both, not all victims come forward, leaving many perpetrators to go on with their lives while their victims suffer in silence.

Some people carry the impact of this kind of abuse with them their entire lives, never divulging to another human being the fact that it happened.

Programs in schools that teach children what such crimes are have resulted in many kids confiding in trusted adults about what has happened to them. Those adults have in turn gone to the authorities, resulting in child molesting prosecutions that may otherwise have gone unpursued. Again, this is as it should be.

People who have been a victim of this kind of crime not only deserve to see that the crime is punished, but also deserve and, in fact, need the help of competent counseling to successfully navigate the rest of their lives.

Anything that could potentially serve as a deterrent to a victim getting this kind of help should be given careful and dispassionate consideration.

In Crisis Connection, Inc. v. Ronald K. Fromme, Fromme has been charged with two counts of Class A felony child molesting. Fromme’s lawyer has subpoenaed the counseling records of the accusers and their mother, and he says his client needs a judge to review the counseling records in order for Fromme to have an adequate defense.

Attorneys for the counseling center argue that allowing even an in camera review could re-victimize those in treatment, especially those who live in small communities where everyone tends to know everyone else in town. Attorneys for the counseling center also point out should a victim admit he or she committed a crime, such as child abuse, the advocate already has a responsibility to report that to the proper authorities.

Subpoenas of records from counseling centers across the state have been issued by defendants hoping for in camera reviews in their cases, the lawyers also said.

In Fromme’s case, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that such records should be made available for an in camera review if defendants meet the three-step test outlined in Williams v. State. The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer and will hear arguments next month.

We fervently hope that the confidentiality of the relationship between advocate and victim will be allowed to remain intact. And we believe even allowing a judge to examine counseling records violates that relationship.
 

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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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