Santa Claus' letters are safe, for now

June 9, 2011
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An interesting footnote in an Indiana Court of Appeals opinion on a counterfeit case makes reference to letters from Santa Claus.

Patrick Trainor got a ticket for making an illegal U-turn and decided he should “prank” the ticketing officer by ordering items under the officer’s name and sending them to the officer’s house. The officer refused the items and discovered many other items Trainor ordered using the officer’s name. If the officer hadn’t caught it, he could have had his credit ruined as some outstanding bills had been turned over to collections.

In the opinion, Trainor argued that he hadn’t committed counterfeiting as defined by Indiana Code 35-43-5-2. He claimed the order forms he filled out in the officer’s name weren’t “written instruments” as defined by the counterfeiting statute because they “have no value, they create no privilege, and they aren’t objects of identification.”

The appellate court rejected Trainor’s arguments and upheld his convictions and sentence.

As I read the opinion, the footnote to a sentence made me chuckle.

“The order forms undoubtedly constitute papers, documents, or other instruments containing written matter, and thus fall within the statutory definition of written instrument.” In a footnote to this sentence, Judge Paul Mathias wrote, “Our holding is limited to the facts and circumstances before us. We do not consider whether letters from Santa Claus and the like constitute prosecutable crimes.”

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  1. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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