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Mental health witnesses, nonsupport bills move to governor’s desk

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The Indiana Senate Wednesday concurred with changes made to legislation outlining who a court may appoint in determining whether a defendant is insane. On Tuesday, senators approved language in the expungement bill granting the Board of Law Examiners access to sealed expunged conviction records.

Senate Bill 88 breaks down mental health witnesses into two categories: those who can be appointed in cases in which the defendant is not charged with a homicide offense under I.C. 35-42-1 and those who can be appointed when a defendant is charged under that statute. The bill passed 48-1.

Senators also concurred with changes the House of Representatives made to SB 63 regarding nonsupport of a child. The legislation changes the penalty enhancement for nonsupport of a child from a Level 6 felony to a Level 5 felony if the person has a previous conviction for the offense. Current law says the felony level increases if the total amount of support owed is at least $15,000. The bill also outlines when the sentencing court may lower a conviction for nonsupport. It passed the Senate 42-6.

SB 27 on petitions for adoptions passed the Senate on a concurrent vote of 48-0. The legislation prohibits an adoption while certain appeals are pending and also provides that the court in which a petition for adoption has been filed has exclusive jurisdiction over the child if there is a petition for adoption and a paternity action pending at the same time.

The bill also asks for a study committee to look at whether a father who has abandoned a birth mother during pregnancy should be required to consent to the adoption of the child.

Senators Tuesday voted 42-6 to pass House Bill 1155 on expungement. The bill rectifies the current inconsistent procedures for expunging arrest records and specifies where a petition for expungement must be filed. The bill grants a defense attorney and probation department access to expunged records if authorized by a court order. HB 1155 also grants access to expunged records to the Indiana Supreme Court and State Board of Law Examiners to determine a person’s fitness for admission to the bar.

Senators voted 45-2 to pass HB 1006, which reconciles technical and substantive conflicts between the legislation overhauling the criminal code, HEA 1006-2013, and other bills on criminal law. It went to the House with amendments, which the House dissented on Wednesday, sending the bill to a conference committee.
 

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  1. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

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