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Judges divided over prison term for probation violation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided in affirming a man’s revocation of probation and order that he serve 12 years of his suspended sentence, with the dissenting judge finding this decision will penalize his child who is relying on support payments.

Johnny Ray Jenkins challenged the determination that he violated the terms and conditions of his probation, claiming the state didn’t sufficiently show that he knowingly failed to pay court costs or probation fees. He didn’t challenge the finding that he violated probation by failing to timely report to the probation department, which on its own would be sufficient to support his probation revocation, noted Judge Edward Najam in Johnny Ray Jenkins v. State of Indiana, No. 48A04-1102-CR-64.

Jenkins admitted he didn’t pay the court costs and fees and was able to hold a job and set up child support for his child. Jenkins never pointed to any mitigating evidence on the record to explain why he hadn’t paid those obligations, so the majority concluded that the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in finding he violated his terms of his probation by not paying the costs.

Najam and Judge Melissa May also upheld the order Jenkins serve 12 years of his previously suspended sentence, pointing to the fact that Jenkins admitted that he failed to pay the court costs and fees, he had not reported to probation for more than one year and he had four prior probation violations.

“Again, probation is a matter of grace, not a right,” wrote Najam.

Judge Patricia Riley dissented on the matter of the 12-year sentence, arguing for the trial court to impose an alternative sentence. She pointed out that Jenkins was able to get a job and set up child support for his child after he was released from prison.

“Returning him to the Indiana Department of Correction for twelve years, not only punishes Jenkins for improving his life while he was on probation, but also penalizes his child who is relying on the support payments,” she wrote. “Furthermore, indiscriminately sending him to the DOC for failing to pay some minimal court fees and costs without taking into account his undeniable rehabilitation, his employment status, and the contributions to his child’s life, will bring us onto the slippery slope of a debtor’s prison.”

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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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