ILNews

Man’s defense of necessity argument fails on appeal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday that a reasonable jury could find that a man’s actions in trying to prevent his girlfriend from using cocaine were disproportionate to the harm avoided if she had used the drug, thus putting an end to his defense of necessity claim. The judges upheld Gerald Clemons’ possession of cocaine conviction.

Police responded to a domestic disturbance call at an apartment complex involving Clemons and his girlfriend Kayla Conner. Police saw blood on the walls and handrail leading to the apartment and heard Clemons threatening to kill Conner through their apartment door. Once inside, officers saw blood throughout the apartment and found a bloodied Conner in the bathtub. The officers found cocaine in Clemons’ sock.

He was convicted of Class D felony possession of cocaine, but the judge reduced it to a Class A misdemeanor.

Clemons argued in Gerald Clemons v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1210-CR-587, that while he was in possession of the cocaine discovered in his sock, the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his possession of the drug was not justified by reason of necessity. He claimed that – and Conner testified at his trial to the same – that Conner wanted to use the drug and he was keeping it from her. The situation escalated as he tried to prevent her from using the drug, he argued.

But Clemons didn’t tell officers that he was holding it to keep Conner from using the drug, Conner was seriously injured by Clemons, and an officer heard Clemons threaten to kill her.

“Even if the jury believed that Clemons’s act of possession of the cocaine was to prevent Conner from using or abusing the drug, a reasonable jury could find, based upon the testimony and evidence presented, that there was an adequate alternative to Clemons’s actions, that the harm caused by his actions was disproportionate to the harm avoided, that Clemons did not have a good faith belief that his actions were necessary to prevent greater harm, that his belief that his actions were necessary was not objectively reasonable under all the circumstances, or that Clemons substantially contributed to the creation of the emergency,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote.
 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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