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Judges reverse 8 forgery convictions based on fake ballot signatures

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A St. Joseph County man charged with multiple counts of forgery after falsifying signatures on an election ballot petition for Barack Obama in 2008 was not prejudiced when the state was allowed to amend the charging information at the end of his trial. But, the Indiana Court of Appeals held the evidence only supports convicting him of one count of forgery, not nine.

Dustin Blythe and three others were charged in 2012 after officials accused them of forging signatures on petitions to get Democratic presidential candidates on the primary ballot. Blythe was employed by the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Office at the time he allegedly falsified the ballot petitions.

Blythe faced nine counts of Class C forgery and one count of Class D felony falsely making a petition of nomination. The state alleged that he knowingly uttered a written instrument that purported to have been made by another person or by authority of one who did not give authority, by forging signatures on the election ballot petitions. Blythe’s defense focused on the term “uttered” and his attorney argued based on the definition, he did not do any of the things included under that definition.

After Blythe presented his defense, the prosecution moved to amend the charging information to instead say Blythe knowingly “made or uttered” the written instrument. Blythe argued allowing the change would prejudice him or require a new trial, but the judge allowed the amendment. Blythe was convicted as charged.

In Dustin Blythe v. State of Indiana, 71A03-1306-CR-228, the Court of Appeals found no error by the trial court in allowing the state to make the late change to the charging information. Judge Elaine Brown pointed out that the defense Blythe presented would have been the same if the change had been made before trial. He was able to present an appropriate defense to the amended charges, “and in fact did so from the commencement of his trial,” she wrote.

But the trial court did err when it denied his motion on the judgment with respect to forger counts II through IX. The evidence supports just one conviction of forgery because the falsified signatures were placed on ballot petitions during a relatively short period of time in the county and the placement of the falsified signatures was performed for a single purpose.

The judges ordered eight of his forgery counts vacated, as well as his conviction of Class D felony falsely making a petition of nomination because that is a factually lesser-included offense of the forgeries alleged in counts I through IX.

 

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  • still a historic case
    Fair enough appeal decision however it remains a historic case that shows up serious questions about the legitimacy of American socalled democracy. We hear a lot of condemnation of foreign elections in the news but ours don't always look so pretty. IN the instant case it was amazing that the democratic party was doing work for and rowing hard in favor of certain candidates in its own primary to the detriment of some serious and legitimate democratic primary contenders. Maybe we should take a look at reforming primary system so that entrenched candidates with tons of donors can't squash their challengers so easily. We might even be so daring as to consider proportional representation such as operates in other western parliamentary systems and allows for third party voices to actually be heard instead of always sidelined.

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  1. "So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)" Well, you know, we're just following in the footsteps of our founders who raped women, raped slaves, raped children, maimed immigrants, sold children, stole property, broke promises, broke apart families, killed natives... You know, good God fearing down home Christian folk! :/

  2. Who gives a rats behind about all the fluffy ranking nonsense. What students having to pay off debt need to know is that all schools aren't created equal and students from many schools don't have a snowball's chance of getting a decent paying job straight out of law school. Their lowly ranked lawschool won't tell them that though. When schools start honestly (accurately) reporting *those numbers, things will get interesting real quick, and the looks on student's faces will be priceless!

  3. Whilst it may be true that Judges and Justices enjoy such freedom of time and effort, it certainly does not hold true for the average working person. To say that one must 1) take a day or a half day off work every 3 months, 2) gather a list of information including recent photographs, and 3) set up a time that is convenient for the local sheriff or other such office to complete the registry is more than a bit near-sighted. This may be procedural, and hence, in the near-sighted minds of the court, not 'punishment,' but it is in fact 'punishment.' The local sheriffs probably feel a little punished too by the overwork. Registries serve to punish the offender whilst simultaneously providing the public at large with a false sense of security. The false sense of security is dangerous to the public who may not exercise due diligence by thinking there are no offenders in their locale. In fact, the registry only informs them of those who have been convicted.

  4. Unfortunately, the court doesn't understand the difference between ebidta and adjusted ebidta as they clearly got the ruling wrong based on their misunderstanding

  5. A common refrain in the comments on this website comes from people who cannot locate attorneys willing put justice over retainers. At the same time the judiciary threatens to make pro bono work mandatory, seemingly noting the same concern. But what happens to attorneys who have the chumptzah to threatened the legal status quo in Indiana? Ask Gary Welch, ask Paul Ogden, ask me. Speak truth to power, suffer horrendously accordingly. No wonder Hoosier attorneys who want to keep in good graces merely chase the dollars ... the powers that be have no concerns as to those who are ever for sale to the highest bidder ... for those even willing to compromise for $$$ never allow either justice or constitutionality to cause them to stand up to injustice or unconstitutionality. And the bad apples in the Hoosier barrel, like this one, just keep rotting.

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