ILNews

Sex offender not eligible to participate in county diversion program

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a defendant’s petition for judicial review after he was denied placement by the court in the Vanderburgh County Forensic Diversion Program. The COA held that there was no final administrative decision for the court to review.

Jason Morales was convicted of three counts of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor, which is considered a violent offense under I.C. 11-12-3.7-6. He sought placement in the diversion program, but the trial court denied it on the basis that the program does not accept any sex offender.

In Jason E. Morales v. State of Indiana, 82A05-1302-CR-72, Morales, pro se, appealed the denial of his petition for judicial review. He argued that because I.C. 11-12-3.7-12 already provides that persons convicted of certain offenses deemed violent are excluded from placement into post-conviction forensic diversion programs, and not all sex offenses are included in that list, the program exceeded its statutory authority by establishing acceptance criteria more exclusive than those in the statute.

The Court of Appeals concluded that the denial of the petition wasn’t an abuse of discretion because there was no final administrative decision for the trial court to review. Morales never applied for acceptance into the program and was thus never rejected from consideration by the program, Judge John Baker pointed out.

 Even if the program had explicitly rejected Morales, its decision would not have been arbitrary or capricious because Morales was ineligible under the statute. And even assuming solely for argument’s sake that Morales had been eligible under the statute, Indiana counties have the ability to determine the scope of their forensic diversion programs, the judges held.

“Despite Morales’s arguments to the contrary, neither the trial court nor we are at liberty to disregard the statute’s clear language and determine that class B felony sexual misconduct as a minor, inasmuch as it is enhanced merely upon the age of the offender, is not a violent offense,” Baker wrote.
 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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