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Judge affirms retaining charges but finds criminal prosecution unjust

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An Indiana Court of Appeals judge expressed concern that a woman’s criminal case may be affected by her admittance of violating several city ordinances after her dogs attacked two people.

Carolyn Boss brought an interlocutory appeal challenging the denial of her motion to dismiss the charging information of criminal charges related to her dogs’ attacks. She argued that her criminal charges, filed a month after she was cited for violating Indianapolis ordinances, are a violation of double jeopardy principles. Boss admitted to 12 of the 15 violations which resulted in more than $1,200 in fines and court costs.

The trial court denied her motion to dismiss, concluding that the enforcement of the ordinances didn’t constitute punishment and the criminal prosecution was therefore not a second prosecution for the same offense.  

In Carolyn Boss v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1002-CR-225, Judges Ezra Friedlander and Paul Mathias affirmed, holding the ordinances – some of which prohibit the same conduct as the criminal statutes – were intended to be a civil remedy, not a criminal penalty.

They also analyzed the ordinances in question using the seven factors identified in Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144 (1963), to conclude there is little evidence that the ordinance enforcement actions serve a punitive purpose.

Judge Melissa May concurred in result, unable to find fault with the majority’s analysis of the Mendoza-Martinez factors, but still felt the criminal prosecution of Boss was unjust. She believed the city fined Boss under ordinances that appear invalid under Indiana Code Section 36-1-3-8 because that section prohibits ordinances that prescribe a “penalty for conduct constituting a crime or infraction under statute.”

Judge May also worried that the appellate court’s decision effectively deprives Boss of her presumption of innocence or any meaningful right to counsel in the criminal prosecution. Boss didn’t have an attorney during the ordinance-violation proceeding, and the trial court found her to be indigent. Defendants have the right to counsel in all criminal prosecutions, “But those rights have little meaning where, as in the case before us, the State is in a position to pursue a criminal prosecution based on admissions a defendant made in an ordinance-violation proceeding where no such right-to-counsel protection was available to her,” she wrote.

“It appears Boss was subjected to a money penalty under an ordinance that is invalid, and will now be deprived of her presumption of innocence and of meaningful assistance of counsel as the State pursues her criminal prosecution. That is wrong, even if the State can avoid double jeopardy violations by characterizing the ordinance violation penalties as having no ‘punitive effect.’ It violates the spirit of numerous constitutional rights intended to protect the innocent in criminal proceedings.”

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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