Juvenile entitled to separate hearing

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a juvenile court judgment after ruling the court improperly incorporated the record of a child hearsay hearing into the fact-finding hearing.

In L.H. v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0701-JV-45, L.H. appealed his conviction in juvenile court of child molesting, a Class C felony if committed by an adult, and battery, a Class B misdemeanor if committed by an adult. In 2006, the then 12-year-old was accused of inappropriately touching his 8-year-old cousin, A.H., over the course of four years. A.H. was taken to the Child Advocacy Center where a videotaped interview about these allegations took place.

A fact-finding hearing on the child molesting and battery charges was scheduled for November 2006. Prior to that hearing, the state filed a Child Hearsay Notice to notify L.H. it planned to introduce out-of-court statements by A.H., including the videotaped interview, and requested a hearing for determining the admissibility of this evidence pursuant to Indiana Code 35-37-4-6.

At the November hearing, the state introduced evidence, including the videotaped interview. Both the state and L.H. referred to the hearing at several points as the child hearsay hearing. The state moved for the admissibility of the hearsay statements presented during the hearing and to incorporate all the testimony and evidence entered. L.H. objected and the court granted the state's motions. It then invited arguments for the fact-finding portion of the hearing and made true findings on the child molesting and battery allegations.

L.H. appealed the juvenile court finding, contending the requirements of the child hearsay statute were not met and that incorporation denied him a fair trial.

The appellate court found there was no agreement between the two parties to incorporate, and L.H. objected several times to the incorporation. L.H. was entitled to have a fact-finding hearing at which procedural safeguards and evidentiary rules are observed, wrote Judge Margret Robb, and incorporating the testimony from a preliminary hearing on an evidentiary matter denied L.H. the hearing to which he is entitled. The majority of judges reversed the juvenile court's true findings and remanded for a fact-finding hearing.

Judge James Kirsch dissented, ruling L.H. failed to show he was prejudiced from the court incorporation of evidence from the child hearsay hearing into the fact-finding hearing. Judge Kirsch wrote he didn't see any procedural safeguards or evidentiary rules that weren't followed, and L.H. didn't bring any up in his brief. He wrote he would affirm the trial court in all respects.

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  1. This is ridiculous. Most JDs not practicing law don't know squat to justify calling themselves a lawyer. Maybe they should try visiting the inside of a courtroom before they go around calling themselves lawyers. This kind of promotional BS just increases the volume of people with JDs that are underqualified thereby dragging all the rest of us down likewise.

  2. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  3. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise

  4. I have a degree at law, recent MS in regulatory studies. Licensed in KS, admitted b4 S& 7th circuit, but not to Indiana bar due to political correctness. Blacklisted, nearly unemployable due to hostile state action. Big Idea: Headwinds can overcome, esp for those not within the contours of the bell curve, the Lego Movie happiness set forth above. That said, even without the blacklisting for holding ideas unacceptable to the Glorious State, I think the idea presented above that a law degree open many vistas other than being a galley slave to elitist lawyers is pretty much laughable. (Did the law professors of Indiana pay for this to be published?)

  5. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.