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Lifeline Law expansion clears Senate committee

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Indiana’s Lifeline Law that provides immunity for minors who report dangerous underage intoxication would expand to cover reporting of any medical crisis, sexual assault or crime if a bill that cleared a Senate committee Wednesday is enacted.

Senate Bill 227  addresses gaps in the Lifeline Law, according to bill author Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis. Merritt said that in visits to college campuses around the state, students told him, for instance, that they weren’t sure if they or a victim would be immune from criminal prosecution if a drug overdose or other medical emergency was reported.

“Kids make mistakes,” Merritt told the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Sometimes the law has to be gray, but it can’t have mental hurdles for these individuals who are under 21 years old to call 911 and save a life.”

The panel moved the bill to the full Senate by a 9-0 vote.

Indiana University Student Association vice president Christopher Kauffman testified that the Lifeline Law enacted in 2011 had saved lives on campus, including students who received medical assistance for near-lethal blood-alcohol contents. He recited instances in which emergency responders said 15 minutes was the difference between life and death.  

Students are made aware of the law during orientation and it’s reinforced institutionally, Kauffman said. Nonetheless, many students who encounter situations where they can help someone in crisis still ask themselves, “If I call, will I get in trouble?”

“Our ultimate goal is to make sure no more students die from their actions or those of their peers,” he told the committee.

By a vote of 6-3, the committee also advanced Senate Bill 59, which would permit guardians to file dissolution of marriage actions in some cases. Proponents, including Sen. Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, said the bill is needed in such instances as when both spouses have become incapacitated and no one may be allowed to file a divorce that is in the couple’s best interest.

Senators opposed to the bill, including Rep. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, objected because he said it could lead to financial interests trumping what’s in the best interests of a couple.

The committee, by a 9-0 vote, also advanced Merritt’s Senate Bill 305, which would reclassify synthetic drugs commonly referred to as “Spice” or bath salts as Schedule I controlled substances.



 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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