ILNews

Judges focus on juvenile due process in Gingerich murder conspiracy appeal

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Court of Appeals judges on Tuesday focused their questions on whether a 12-year-old waived to adult court in a 2010 murder had due process when his attorneys had just five days to prepare for a waiver hearing in juvenile court in Kosciusko County.

A panel heard oral arguments in Paul Gingerich v. State of Indiana, 43A05-1101-CR-27, in which Paul Gingerich pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to serve 25 years in prison as an adult. He is believed to be the youngest person in Indiana sentenced as an adult. A 15-year-old co-defendant, Colt Lundy, received the same sentence in the killing of Lundy’s stepfather, Phillip Danner, in Lundy’s home in Cromwell. Lundy has not appealed his conviction.

Presiding Judge John Baker and judges Elaine Brown and James Kirsch grilled deputy attorney general Angela Sanchez about the period of time that Gingerich’s defenders were allowed to prepare for a waiver hearing from juvenile court and the court’s denial of requests for continuances.

“Are you confident this is what other trial judges should be doing?” Kirsch asked Sanchez. She replied that the waiver process in question might not represent “best practices,” but that Gingerich’s attorneys still would bear the burden of proving that even if the judge erred, that Gingerich was prejudiced by the mistake.

Sanchez urged the court to rely on the plea that Gingerich entered with the consent of his parents and his own acknowledgement in writing that he was competent to stand trial. But Baker said that happened in adult court, and he repeatedly steered Sanchez to address what happened in juvenile court, asking if she would defend the waiver. “I’m suggesting to you, you need to do that,” he said.

“If you’re not supposed to be in the room, what happens in that room isn’t legitimate,” he later said.

Kirsch noted the Indiana Supreme Court has held that the determination of waiver from juvenile court requires an investigation that “shall not be a perfunctory proceeding.” Brown noted that Marion County typically grants 90 days for juvenile investigations when waiver to adult court is requested. “Why the rush to justice?” she asked at one point.

Sanchez said the juvenile judge was under no statutory obligation to mandate a competency investigation solely based on Gingerich’s age.

“We don’t know if he was incompetent,” Sanchez said of Gingerich. “There’s no error in failing to order” a competency investigation, she later said.

The judges also said they were troubled by evidence presented in the juvenile hearing by a probation officer who said he knew of no secure juvenile facility that could accept a 12-year-old convicted in a homicide, despite numerous placement options. At the discretion of the Department of Correction, Gingerich currently is housed in the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility.

Gingerich defense attorney Monica Foster said the trial court was misled on that and other facts and never had evidence of Gingerich’s incompetence to stand trial made available before the waiver hearing. She said his parents likely signed a plea in a legal landscape where they saw no due process, reciting a record replete with denials of requests for continuances and motions to reconsider.

The judges also challenged Foster, who indicated that Gingerich’s slight size should have given the juvenile judge pause to further consider competency.

“With all due respect, height does not prove incompetency,” Baker said. Foster replied that a report was done after the waiver hearing that would have proven incompetency and additional evidence would have been presented if defenders had been allowed to prepare a case.

“I’ve never seen an AG’s office so wed to waiver,” Foster said.

Baker counseled Foster that if Gingerich, now 14, prevailed and the case were remanded for new juvenile proceedings, he again could be waived to adult court, where the original murder charge could be refiled. It carries a potential 65-year prison sentence.

“There’s a chance you might win this battle but lose this war,” Baker said.

“I know that I risk that,” Foster said. But she said she also knew “what the evidence would look like at a fair juvenile hearing.”

After Tuesday’s argument, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a statement defending Gingerich’s conviction and sentence and asking the court to affirm them.

“The state’s position is that the plea agreement entered by the defendant with the vigorous assistance of two attorneys and his parents should not be disturbed. The trial court and county prosecutor followed Indiana law, and the defendant’s rights were not violated,” Zoeller said.

Read more about the Gingerich case in the Oct. 26 issue of Indiana Lawyer.



ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I enrolled America's 1st tax-free Health Savings Account (HSA) so you can trust me. I bet 1/3 of my clients were lawyers because they love tax-free deposits, growth and withdrawals or total tax freedom. Most of the time (always) these clients are uninformed about insurance law. Employer-based health insurance is simple if you read the policy. It says, Employers (lawyers) and employees who are working 30-hours-per-week are ELIGIBLE for insurance. Then I show the lawyer the TERMINATION clause which states: When you are no longer ELIGIBLE! Then I ask a closing question (sales term) to the lawyer which is, "If you have a stroke or cancer and become too sick to work can you keep your health insurance?" If the lawyer had dependent children they needed a "Dependent Conversion Privilege" in case their child got sick or hurt which the lawyers never had. Lawyers are pretty easy sales. Save premium, eliminate taxes and build wealth!

  2. Ok, so cheap laughs made about the Christian Right. hardiharhar ... All kidding aside, it is Mohammad's followers who you should be seeking divine protection from. Allahu Akbar But progressives are in denial about that, even as Europe crumbles.

  3. Father's rights? What about a mothers rights? A child's rights? Taking a child from the custody of the mother for political reasons! A miscarriage of justice! What about the welfare of the child? Has anyone considered parent alienation, the father can't erase the mother from the child's life. This child loves the mother and the home in Wisconsin, friends, school and family. It is apparent the father hates his ex-wife more than he loves his child! I hope there will be a Guardian Ad Litem, who will spend time with and get to know the child, BEFORE being brainwashed by the father. This is not just a child! A little person with rights and real needs, a stable home and a parent that cares enough to let this child at least finish the school year, where she is happy and comfortable! Where is the justice?

  4. "The commission will review applications and interview qualified candidates in March and April." Riiiiiight. Would that be the same vaulted process that brought us this result done by "qualified candidates"? http://www.theindianalawyer.com/justices-deny-transfer-to-child-custody-case/PARAMS/article/42774 Perhaps a lottery system more like the draft would be better? And let us not limit it to Indiana attorneys so as to give the untainted a fighting chance?

  5. Steal a little, and they put you in jail. Steal a lot, and they make you king. Bob Dylan ala Samuel Johnson. I had a very similar experience trying to hold due process trampling bureaucrats responsible under the law. Consider this quote and commentary:"'When the president does it, that means it is not illegal,' [Richard] Nixon told his interviewer. Those words were largely seen by the American public -- which continued to hold the ex-president in low esteem -- as a symbol of his unbowed arrogance. Most citizens still wanted to believe that no American citizen, not even the president, is above the law." BWHaahaaahaaa!!!! http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/When-the-president-does-it-that-means-it-is-not-illegal.html

ADVERTISEMENT