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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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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