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Gingerich reversal won’t get high court review

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A boy believed to be the youngest person convicted as an adult in Indiana will get a fresh start in juvenile court after the Indiana Supreme Court let stand a reversal of his conviction.

The justices on Thursday unanimously denied transfer asked for by the state in the case of Paul Henry Gingerich, who was 12 at the time he and an older boy shot and killed a Kosciusko County man. The Indiana Court of Appeals in December threw out the conviction for Gingerich, now 15.

“I’m very happy with this ruling,” Gingerich attorney Monica Foster of Indianapolis said Friday. “We came out of the appellate process 8-0, and that’s good momentum heading back to Kosciusko County.” Foster said she will continue to represent Gingerich pro bono in the new juvenile proceeding.

Gingerich pleaded guilty and was sentenced as an adult for his role as the younger co-defendant in the 2010 shooting death of Phillip Danner inside his home in Cromwell. Also convicted as an adult was Danner’s stepson, Colt Lundy, who was 15 at the time.

Kosciusko Circuit Judge Rex Reed ordered Gingerich sent to adult prison upon his conviction, but the Department of Correction used its discretion to instead send him to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility because of his size. Gingerich was 5-feet, 2-inches tall and weighed about 80 pounds at the time of his incarceration.

The case drew international attention because of Gingerich’s age and perceived injustice because, among other things, his defenders were allowed only five days to prepare for a waiver hearing from juvenile court.

“I think justice was done,” Foster said. “I think the appellate court worked very hard to resolve some difficult issues. … It’s time to do this thing right.”

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller appealed the Court of Appeals’ reversal, and in a statement his office said it would aggressively support the new prosecution.

“Having exhausted the appellate remedies, we will continue to work with the Kosciusko County Prosecutor's Office in this difficult matter involving the violent taking of a human life by a juvenile,” said Bryan Corbin, spokesman for the AG’s office. “This offender’s age at the time of the crime prompted a necessary discussion about the rights of the accused, but no one should lose sight of the fact that there is still a deceased victim and the rights of crime victims also should be respected and protected.”

Read more about the Gingerich case in Indiana Lawyer.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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