When a spanking is OK

June 13, 2008
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When I acted up as a child, I would be threatened with a spanking. Lucky for me, my parents only delivered on the threat a couple times in my life. A stern look or grounding seemed to do the trick to curb my bad behavior. But for one Indiana mother, Sophia Willis, grounding and taking away privileges didn’t work to control her 11-year-old son’s behavior.





  After discovering he stole some of her clothing and then lied about it, she hit him several times with a belt or an electric cord. Willis was convicted of battery as a Class D felony. Willis appealed her conviction, arguing a parental discipline privilege and that she had tried other disciplinary measures, but nothing else had worked. The case made it all the way to the state Supreme Court, which reversed her conviction, finding the punishment didn’t constitute battery.  When does a parent’s discipline privilege end and abuse begin? According to the Supreme Court, as long as the parent satisfies all of the elements the parental discipline privilege defense beyond a reasonable doubt, using corporal punishment in the form of spanking on a child is legally allowed.  

However, Justice Frank Sullivan brought up an interesting point in the opinion: The courts see many cases of child abuse in which parents claim they were only disciplining their children. Requiring the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force was unreasonable or the parents’ belief was unreasonable will only require the state to spend more effort protecting children from abuse, he wrote.





   In years past, parents would think nothing of spanking their children as a form of discipline. In today’s world, spanking a child has become a gray area for parents and the courts as to when that discipline crosses the line into abuse. This opinion is supposed to address it, but as Justice Sullivan points out, it may just raise more questions as to whether a parent crossed the line in disciplining a child.
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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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