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High court addresses Protected Person Statute

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Addressing for the first time under the current Rules of Evidence a case regarding a protected person testifying at trial as well as by videotape or other statement, the Indiana Supreme Court held that if the statements are consistent and both are otherwise admissible, testimony of a protected person can't be presented both in open court and in a pre-recorded statement through the Protected Person Statute.

In Brian Tyler v. State of Indiana, No. 69S04-0801-CR-3, the Supreme Court exercised its supervisory power to hold that a party can't introduce testimony via the Protected Person Statute if the same person testifies in open court as to the same matters.

Brian Tyler was convicted of two counts of Class A felony child molesting, two counts of Class C felony child molesting, and one count of Class D felony vicarious sexual gratification. All five child victims testified at trial and videotaped interviews of three of the children were admitted into evidence. Tyler appealed, arguing error under Indiana Rule of Evidence 403 or fundamental error in the admission of the children's taped interviews.

The majority believed admitting consistent statements through both pre-recorded media and by live testimony presents two problems aside from confrontation clause or hearsay issues. Admitting the live testimony and consistent videotape statements is cumulative evidence and can be unfairly prejudicial, wrote Justice Theodore Boehm, and if a child or protected person is mature and reliable enough to testify in live court, then using the Protected Person Statute is unnecessary.

Justice Boehm wrote the rules implemented by use of supervisory powers aren't applicable to proceedings conducted prior to publication. The majority agreed that the court didn't commit reversible error by admitting the videotaped statements. Justice Sullivan concurred in result with this holding in a separate opinion and respectfully suggested the status quo is superior to what was adopted by the Supreme Court today.

Under Indiana Appellate Rule 7(B), the majority revised Tyler's sentence, finding his 110-year prison sentence to be inappropriate. Instead of attaching the habitual offender enhancement to Tyler's Class A felony child molesting convictions, the majority attached it to his Class D felony vicarious sexual gratification conviction, resulting in a maximum enhancement of 4 ½ years instead of 30 years. The majority also concluded the enhancement of the consecutive sentences imposed for the Class A child molesting convictions above the advisory level wasn't warranted and remanded for the trial court to issue an amended sentencing order in accordance with the opinion without a hearing, leaving Tyler with a 67 ½ year sentence.

Justice Dickson dissented as to revising Tyler's sentence, writing the trial judge's evaluation and determination of the appropriate sentence doesn't warrant appellate intrusion.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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