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Justices uphold admitting juvenile's confession

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The Indiana Supreme Court has found that a juvenile court didn’t err in admitting a teen’s confession, finding the boy was given the opportunity for meaningful consultation with his mother and that he knowingly waived his rights. The justices did also emphasize that the waiver used should be altered to make it more clear.

D.M. was arrested for breaking into a neighbor’s home. D.M. was in custody in a police car in front of the home for about two hours before his mother got there. She said police told her that she couldn’t speak to her 13-year-old son until she signed a waiver form. She also claimed it was a hostile environment as firefighters on the scene were glaring at her because the neighbor worked as a firefighter.

A police detective took the mother and son to his car and told them D.M.’s rights, reading from a “juvenile waiver” form. D.M. and the mother signed the top part of the form, and then had a few minutes alone in the back of the detective’s car to talk. The detective came back and asked if they were done talking. The mother said yes, so the detective read them the waiver-of-rights section at the bottom of the waiver form and they signed it. D.M. then confessed in detail.

D.M. objected to the admission of his confession at the fact finding hearing alleging he committed what would be burglary and theft if committed by an adult. The juvenile court found the allegations in the petition to be true. The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the decision 2-1 in a not-for-publication opinion.

The justices agreed in D.M. v. State, No. 49S02-1101-JV-11, that the confession was admissible. They found based on the record that the actual procedure utilized was sufficient to remedy any prior ambiguity and that D.M.’s rights weren’t waived after he was given a chance to speak to his mother. D.M. and his mother were alone in the car and no one could hear their conversation. The detective didn’t begin the interrogation until the mother and son had signed the waiver.

They found the atmosphere wasn’t intimidating for meaningful conversation, as the mother and D.M. had argued. The justices also agreed that D.M. had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his rights. They affirmed the finding that D.M. was a delinquent child for committing what would be felonies if committed by an adult.

The Supreme Court also discussed clarifying the wavier form used in this case so that it would give clearer guidance. The form says “My parents and/or legal guardian and I have been allowed time by ourselves without the presence of a police officer to discuss the waiver of my rights before signing the waiver of rights.” Justice Frank Sullivan suggested it would be better to change the tense to say “… and I will be allowed time by ourselves …” They also believed the style and presentation of the form was deficient and suggested changing the title from “JUVENILE WAIVER” to “Juvenile and Parent (or Guardian) Advisement & Waiver of Rights.” The form could also more clearly indicate the parent’s role in waiving the juvenile’s rights.

Justice Robert Rucker concurred in result.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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