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Supreme Court affirms sexually violent predator status

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A man’s challenge to the finding that he is a sexually violent predator failed because the invited error doctrine precludes consideration of his claims on appeal, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today. If it wasn’t for this error, three of the justices believed the defendant would have been entitled to relief.

In Matthew A. Baugh v. State of Indiana, No. 18S04-1007-CR-398, the justices affirmed the determination that Matthew Baugh is a sexually violent predator. He was convicted of two counts of Class B felony sexual misconduct with a minor. After such a conviction, a hearing may be held to determine whether the defendant also should be classified as a sexually violent predator.

Indiana Code Section 35-38-1-7.5(e) requires the court to appoint two psychologists or psychiatrists who have expertise in criminal behavior to evaluate the defendant and testify at the hearing. The hearing may be combined with a person’s sentencing hearing.

The trial court combined the two hearings and received two reports from the court-appointed psychiatrist and psychologist. Both found Baugh would be likely to commit future sex offenses, and one report stated he should be classified as a SVP. The two doctors did not testify at the hearing.

Instead of challenging their credentials as far as being able to evaluate Baugh or the fact they were not there in person to testify, Baugh’s counsel said it’s up to the court to make the SVP determination based on the convictions and the doctor’s reports. The trial court found him to be a SVP.

“The invited error doctrine applies here to preclude consideration of the defendant's appellate claims based on the absence of the doctors' live testimony at the hearing and the alleged insufficient expertise in criminal behavioral disorders,” wrote Justice Brent Dickson for the majority, with which Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Frank Sullivan and Theodore Boehm concurred.

Justice Robert Rucker concurred in separate opinion in which the chief justice and Justice Sullivan joined. They believe that had it not been for the invited error doctrine, Baugh would be entitled to relief. Based on their interpretation of the statute, the doctors had to testify in person at the hearing, and had he asked for them to testify live, the trial court would have had to honor that request. But because he invited the trial court to make its determination based in part on the doctors’ reports, he can’t now challenge that decision.

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  1. I can understand a 10 yr suspension for drinking and driving and not following the rules,but don't you think the people who compleate their sentences and are trying to be good people of their community,and are on the right path should be able to obtain a drivers license to do as they please.We as a state should encourage good behavior instead of saying well you did all your time but we can't give you a license come on.When is a persons time served than cause from where I'm standing,its still a punishment,when u can't have the freedom to go where ever you want to in car,truck ,motorcycle,maybe their should be better programs for people instead of just throwing them away like daily trash,then expecting them to change because they we in jail or prison for x amount of yrs.Everyone should look around because we all pay each others bills,and keep each other in business..better knowledge equals better community equals better people...just my 2 cents

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  4. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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