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Justices rule on cases using 3-step test seeking records

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The Indiana Supreme Court tackled the issue of requests for production of information to private third parties in two opinions Thursday – one dealing with records sought that fall under the victim-advocate privilege and the other dealing with unprotected information.

Crisis Connection, Inc. v. Ronald K. Fromme, No. 19S05-1012-CR-678, and Lamar M. Crawford v. State of Indiana, No., 49S05-1106-CR-370, both involved the three-step test used to determine the discoverability of information in criminal cases – particularity, relevance or materiality, and paramount interest.

In Crisis Connection, Ronald Fromme sought the counseling records from nonprofit Crisis Connection of two girls and their mother for use in his defense against child molesting charges. Crisis Connection argued those records are protected under the state’s victim-advocate privilege. The trial court ordered the records delivered to the court for an in camera review. On interlocutory appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed using the three-step test, holding that the privacy interest was important, but not strong enough to bar an in camera review of the records.

In Crawford, Lamar Crawford sought information recorded by Lucky Shift during the production of “The Shift,” a television show that followed Indianapolis Metropolitan Police homicide detectives. Crawford was accused of a murder that was the subject of a show that aired. The trial court ordered some information be disclosed for an in camera review, but denied three of Crawford’s requests because they weren’t particular enough. Using the three-step test, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that those three requests weren’t sufficiently particular.

The justices found the COA erred in using the three-step test in Crisis Connection because the records Fromme sought are privileged information, and caselaw makes clear that the test only applies to discover nonprivileged information. The Indiana Legislature has expressly provided that the victim-advocate privilege applies in cases like this one to prohibit any disclosure, wrote Justice Frank Sullivan.

The high court went on to find that Fromme does not have a constitutional right to an in camera review of Crisis Connection’s records, frequently citing Pennsylvania v. Ritchie, 480 U.S. 39 (1987). Indiana courts do not extend Confrontation Clause rights to pretrial settings, so as long as the trial court does not improperly prevent Fromme from cross-examining the alleged victims at trial, his rights under the Confrontation Clause won’t be violated, wrote the justice.

The justices emphasized the importance of the promise of confidentiality between a provider and a patient. If patients knew their records could be subject to even an in camera review, confidential conversations would surely be chilled, wrote Justice Sullivan.

The Supreme Court reversed the trial court and remanded for further proceedings.

In Crawford, the three-step test does apply because the information Crawford seeks isn’t privileged. The justices focused on two requests denied by the trial court: Request #18 – Footage of any and all statements of officers, agents, or affiliates of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department or any reenactment thereof; and Request #19 – Footage of anyone interviewed or questioned, or any reenactment thereof, in connection with the investigation of the death of Gernell Jackson.

In each of the challenged requests, Crawford doesn’t state with reasonable particularity what footage or statements or interviews he seeks, he is just fishing for it, wrote Justice Sullivan. The justices couldn’t say that the trial court abused its discretion in quashing these discovery requests.
 

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  1. 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.

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

  3. This outbreak illustrates the absurdity of the extreme positions taken by today's liberalism, specifically individualism and the modern cult of endless personal "freedom." Ebola reminds us that at some point the person's own "freedom" to do this and that comes into contact with the needs of the common good and "freedom" must be curtailed. This is not rocket science, except, today there is nonstop propaganda elevating individual preferences over the common good, so some pundits have a hard time fathoming the obvious necessity of quarantine in some situations....or even NATIONAL BORDERS...propagandists have also amazingly used this as another chance to accuse Western nations of "racism" which is preposterous and offensive. So one the one hand the idolatry of individualism has to stop and on the other hand facts people don't like that intersect with race-- remain facts nonetheless. People who respond to facts over propaganda do better in the long run. We call it Truth. Sometimes it seems hard to find.

  4. It would be hard not to feel the Kramers' anguish. But Catholic Charities, by definition, performed due diligence and held to the statutory standard of care. No good can come from punishing them for doing their duty. Should Indiana wish to change its laws regarding adoption agreements and or putative fathers, the place for that is the legislature and can only apply to future cases. We do not apply new laws to past actions, as the Kramers seem intent on doing, to no helpful end.

  5. I am saddened to hear about the loss of Zeff Weiss. He was an outstanding member of the Indianapolis legal community. My thoughts are with his family.

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