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Majority affirms conviction despite no witnesses

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An appellate judge dissented from the majority's decision to uphold a woman's conviction of operating a car after her driving privileges had been forfeited for life, finding that confirming her conviction would break from precedent.

In Cathy A. Crawley v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-0905-CR-280, Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Riley believed the evidence of the case created a probability that Cathy Crawley was driving the car that crashed into an acquaintance's pool early in the morning, but that the probability is less than beyond a reasonable doubt. She based her dissent on previous rulings that dealt with the sufficiency of evidence to prove operation of a car, and found the majority's affirmation of Crawley's conviction goes against the precedent set by those cases.

Crawley was found by acquaintance Donald Jones in his backyard early in the morning in November 2008; she was soaking wet, wearing boxer shorts, a tank top, and no shoes. She was disoriented and asked if Jones had seen her car. After searching for a moment, she realized the car was partially in Jones' above ground pool. Crawley's purse, jacket, and cigarette butts were found by his hot tub. Jones believed she had been drinking and Crawley admitted to taking pills used to treat seizure disorders and panic attacks. No one had seen her drive the car into the pool, but she was alone when she was found.

Over Crawley's objections, Jones called the police. Crawley had borrowed the car from a friend weeks earlier and then refused to return it. She was convicted of Class C felony operating a motor vehicle after driving privileges are forfeited for life.

Judges Nancy Vaidik and Terry Crone affirmed the conviction because they believed when taken as a whole, the substantial circumstantial evidence supported the trial court's inference that Crawley operated the car, ultimately drove it into Jones' pool, and was found alone and impaired at the scene. She also frequently referred to the car as hers.

The majority rejected Crawley's arguments that she was too intoxicated at the time she made the statement about nobody being with her, so it wasn't reliable; that the trial court put substantial weight on the fact that water was found in her purse and that it must have come from the pool; and Crawley's challenges to the trial court's discrediting of her friend's testimony about when Crawley was at her house because her arguments would require the appellate court to reweigh the evidence.

"We find it to be of no moment that nobody observed Crawley operate the motor vehicle because the State presented sufficient circumstantial evidence from which the trier of fact could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Crawley operated the motor vehicle," wrote Judge Vaidik.

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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