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Supreme Court considers MySpace statement

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The Indiana Supreme Court today issued an opinion that affirmed a Kosciusko Circuit jury's conviction of a man who murdered his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter and the resulting sentence of life in prison without parole. The opinion also considered the defendant's novel question: whether statements from his social networking Web site, which were presented to the jury as evidence of his character, were admissible in court.

In Ian J. Clark v. State of Indiana, No. 43S00-0810-CR-575, the high court found Ian Clark's statements made on a MySpace page were admissible as evidence.

In the opinion, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard included the description that Clark made about himself on the Web site, which the prosecutor read for the court over the defense's objection:

"'Society labels me as an outlaw and criminal and sees more and more everyday how many of the people, while growing up, and those who judge me, are dishonest and dishonorable. Note, in one aspect I'm glad to say I have helped you people in my past who have done something and achieved on the other hand, I'm sad to see so many people who have nowhere. To those people I say, if I can do it and get away. B... sh.... And with all my obstacles, why the f... can't you.'"

Clark had also stated to a detective while waiting in an exam room with police, "I will f...ing kick your ass. I will send the Hell's Angels to kill you. F... it. It's only a C felony. I can beat this."

"Clark's MySpace declarations shared much with his boast to the police after he killed Samantha," Chief Justice Shepard wrote.

Clark argued that because prior criminal acts should not be admissible in court, the MySpace statement would fit into that category.

However, Chief Justice Shepard wrote, "Clark's posting contained only statements about himself and in reference to himself. (Tr. at 465-469.) Thus, the State is right to observe that this is solely evidence of his own statements, not of prior criminal acts. It was Clark's words and not his deeds that were at issue, so Rule 404(b) does not apply."

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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