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Mental health statute limits state’s use of juvenile statements

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Indiana’s Juvenile Mental Health Statute’s limited immunity prohibits both use and derivative use of a juvenile’s statements to prove delinquency, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled. The justices were able to come to the conclusion without addressing the question of the statute’s constitutionality.

I.T. was ordered into treatment as a condition of his probation after admitting to conduct that would be Class B felony child molesting if committed by an adult. He was ordered to undergo treatment, including therapeutic polygraph examinations. During one of those exams, I.T. admitted to molesting two other children. The state filed a delinquency petition based on I.T.’s admission to his therapist, and it admits that it had no other independent evidence beyond the statement.

The juvenile court initially approved the new petition, but then granted I.T.’s motion to dismiss, citing I.C. 31-32-2-2.5(b), the Juvenile Mental Health Statute. The state appealed instead of refiling based on other evidence. The Court of Appeals held the state couldn’t appeal.

In State of Indiana v. I.T., 20S03-1309-JV-583, the justices concluded that the state could appeal because the trial court essentially suppressed evidence ending the proceeding. And sidestepping addressing the constitutionality of the statute, the justices were able to reconcile the limited immunity in part (b) of the statute with the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination and construe the statute to conform to that privilege.

The statute’s terms clearly confer use immunity, but do not necessarily extend to derivative use immunity, Justice Loretta Rush wrote. But failing to provide derivative use immunity would raise a serious doubt about the statute’s constitutionality. The justices decided not to directly answer the constitutional question and instead looked at the history of the statute. Rush wrote that derivative use immunity is consistent with the statute’s history and purpose as well as the purposes of the juvenile code in general. The Juvenile Mental Health Statute went into effect in 2007 after the Indiana State Bar Association found that more than 50 percent of youth detained in Indiana have mental health and/or substance abuse problems.

Failing to prohibit derivative use would mean that I.T. and other juvenile offenders would be discouraged from participating openly in treatment to reduce their likelihood of reoffending, Rush wrote.

Because the statute must be construed to provide use and derivative use immunity, the trial court reached the correct result, the justices held.

“Our conclusion that the probable cause affidavit violates the Juvenile Mental Health Statute does not leave the State without recourse, nor does it relieve a juvenile from consequences based on disclosures during court-ordered treatment. The Statute provides that the State may use a juvenile’s statements in treatment to revoke or modify probation,” Rush wrote. “Moreover, the juvenile’s statements may be used for purposes other than proving delinquency, such as at a CHINS hearing, at an expungement hearing, or at a Sex-Offender Registry hearing. … And the Juvenile Mental Health Statute does not prevent the State from introducing evidence of a juvenile’s delinquency, if it can ‘affirmative[ly] . . . prove that the evidence it proposes to use is derived from a legitimate source wholly independent of the compelled testimony.’”

 

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  1. 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.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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