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First impression on residential entry issue

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Since a man who had permission to be in his ex-girlfriend's garage did not have permission to be in her house, he committed residential entry as a Class D felony when he kicked in her locked kitchen door to use the phone. The issue whether an attached garage is considered a dwelling under the residential entry statute is an issue of first impression for the Indiana Court of Appeals.

In Rahn Davidson v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0810-CR-898, Rahn Davidson contended he didn't commit residential entry because he had permission to be in his ex-girlfriend's garage. After they broke up, she allowed him to store some of his belongings in her garage, but did not allow him into her house. Davidson argued that Indiana caselaw holds that a garage is considered part of a dwelling for purposes of the burglary statute. Therefore in applying that line of reasoning to his case, he had permission to be in his ex-girlfriend's home and can't be convicted of residential entry.

The Indiana Court of Appeals found no Indiana cases dealing with this particular issue, so they turned to cases from other jurisdictions. The appellate court used State v. Cochran, 463 A.2d 618 (Conn. 1983), State v. McDonald, 346 N.W.2d 351 (Minn. 1984), and Wesolic v. State, 837 P.2d 130 (Alaska Ct. App. 1992), to hold the locked kitchen in the ex-girlfriend's residence constituted a separate structure or enclosed space for purposes of Indiana Code Section 35-41-1-10, and thus Davidson's entry into the kitchen constitutes the offense of residential entry, wrote Senior Judge Betty Barteau.

The ex-girlfriend gave Davidson permission to enter the garage, but not her house. The evidence shows there was a clear demarcation between the garage and the locked kitchen. Where there is an evidentiary boundary, such as a door that was locked at the time of the incident, the area is not only a part of the whole dwelling, but also a separate structure or enclosed space, she wrote.

Using Davidson's argument that his entry into the kitchen doesn't constitute residential entry because he was already in the dwelling amounts to carte blanche for anyone who obtains consent to enter only a portion of the residence, the judge continued. Under that rationale, a person couldn't be convicted of residential entry with respect to a separate portion of the residence even if he or she kicked in a locked door.

When the state seeks a conviction under the residential entry statute based upon unlawful entry of a separate structure or enclosed space within a dwelling, the state's burden includes a showing that any permission to be in one section of the dwelling didn't extend to the separate structure where the alleged residential entry occurred, wrote Senior Judge Barteau.

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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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