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Judges reverse teen’s gang-related adjudication

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The state was unable to prove that a 14-year-old Indianapolis boy committed criminal gang activity when he and several other juveniles beat up another teen after a party, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

G.H. appealed his adjudication of what would be Class D felony criminal gang activity, arguing there is insufficient evidence to support the finding.

Teenager V.A. and another friend went to G.H.’s house before going to a party. V.A. left after seeing another teenage boy had a sawed-off shotgun. A group of teens, including G.H. followed V.A. and beat him up. V.A. got away and later attended another party with his older brother J.A. G.H. was at this party and when the brothers left for home, G.H. and some other boys followed them and asked if they wanted to fight. The brothers ran home.

To prove that G.H. committed criminal gang activity, the state must show that he (1) was an active member of a criminal gang, (2) had knowledge of the group’s criminal advocacy, and (3) had a specific intent to further the group’s criminal goals.

No witness could link physical evidence of gang activity to G.H. The brothers gave contradictory testimony about whether G.H. yelled “skoo woo” or “Drop ‘Em Squad” before the group of teens approached the brothers after the party. Those terms are often called out by gang members as a way of identifying themselves. J.A. recalled G.H. saying he was a member of the gang, but didn’t remember when he heard it.

“The State argues that G.H. and the other boys were gang members at the time of the incident because J.A. testified that they hung out together. This guilt-by-association argument is circular and unpersuasive,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in G.H. v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1207-JV-532.

“However, even if the evidence established G.H.’s active gang membership, we would still conclude that the evidence is insufficient to sustain G.H.’s adjudication because there is no evidence that G.H. had the specific intent to further Drop ‘Em Squad’s criminal goals by battering V.A.”
 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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