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Justices affirm ‘safe harbor’ in Juvenile Mental Health Statute

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Editor's Note: This opinion was originally issued by the Indiana Supreme Court on March 12. It was reissued March 21 due to the addition of attorney Peter D. Todd to the list of attorneys for the appellee.

A juvenile sex offender’s statements in a polygraph test during probation that he molested two more children may not form the sole basis to prove delinquency, the Indiana Supreme Court held Friday in affirming a trial court and rejecting the state’s appeal.

Justices unanimously held that the Legislature did not intend to allow juveniles’ statements in therapy to be used against them when lawmakers in 2007 passed the Juvenile Mental Health Statute, I.C. 31-32-2-2.5.

“We construe that statute to confer both use immunity and derivative use immunity, in order to avoid a likely violation of the constitutional privileges against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment and Article 1, Section 14 of the Indiana Constitution,” Justice Loretta Rush wrote for the court. “We therefore affirm the trial court.”

In State of Indiana v. I.T., 20S03-1309-JV-583, Rush wrote that the trial court gave the state an opportunity to introduce evidence derived from I.T.’s statements, yet the state pursued no independent concurrent investigation. “(H)ere, the majority of the evidence in the probable-cause affidavit was precisely what even a narrow view of the Statute forbids — I.T.’s statements during court-ordered therapy. And the State concedes that the remainder of the allegations are entirely derived from those statements. In each respect, I.T.’s statements made during court-compelled therapy were improperly used against him.

“… (W)hile the Juvenile Mental Health Statute limits the State’s use of a juvenile’s statements, it does not prevent the state from ensuring that juveniles face appropriate consequences for their actions,” Rush wrote.

“We conclude that the State may appeal a juvenile court order that suppresses evidence, if doing so terminates the proceeding. We also construe the Juvenile Mental Health Statute’s limited immunity as prohibiting both use and derivative use of a juvenile’s statements to prove delinquency — a safe harbor that honors the Legislature’s intent, while avoiding any question of the Statute’s constitutionality that would otherwise be implicated.”


 

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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