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Justices uphold probation revocation for child support non-payment

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A trial judge was correct in revoking a man’s probation based on his failure to pay weekly child support as a condition of his probation, the Indiana Supreme Court has ruled.

In Troy R. Smith v. State of Indiana, No. 35S02-1106-CR-369, the justices unanimously affirmed Huntington Superior Judge Jeffrey Heffelfinger’s decision involving a felony case of non-support.


Troy Smith pleaded guilty in May 2007 to Class D felony of non-support of a dependent child, regarding $4,671.13 that he hadn’t paid. Though Smith remained current on his payments through November 2008, he started making partial payments on his support and arrearage or stopped periodically. His probation officer field a revocation petition in March 2010.

Concluding that Smith had violated the terms of his probation by failing to pay current support every week, the trial court revoked Smith’s probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his three-year sentence. The Court of Appeals last year reversed, finding the state didn’t meet its burden in proving that Smith had the ability to pay and that the probation shouldn’t have been fully revoked.

The justices pointed to their decision two years ago in Runyon v. State, 939 N.E.2d 613, 616 (Ind. 2010), which dealt with a similar issue and answered many of the questions that Smith has raised in his arguments. The court noted in Runyon that state law allows probation to be revoked for a probation condition violation, but if that violation involves a financial obligation, then the probationer must have “recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally” failed to pay.

The justices determined that the trial judge is the fact finder who’s best able to reasonably conclude whether Smith met that standard in failing to pay current or past child support as required. Since Smith failed to carry his burden in convincing the trial judge, the justices found that the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in revoking Smith’s probation.

 

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  1. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  2. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  3. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  4. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  5. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

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