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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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