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Trial judge's comments spur COA reversal

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Because of a trial judge's statements following the conviction of a man for having a gun in a controlled area of an airport, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the conviction for insufficient evidence.

Daniel Kribs challenged his conviction following a bench trial of Class A misdemeanor entering a controlled area of an airport with a weapon or explosive in Kribs v. State of Indiana, No. 49A05-0904-CR-225. Kribs has a valid permit to carry his gun, which he carries on a consistent basis. On the day he went to the airport, he put the loaded gun inside the pocket of his jacket. An airport employee saw the gun as it went through the X-ray machine and called Indianapolis Airport Police. Kribs admitted the gun was his but said he put it in his jacket without realizing it and forgot it was there.

Kribs argued the state was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he actually knew he was carrying the weapon to be convicted.

Chief Judge John Baker noted that had the trial court remained silent, it's likely the appellate court would have confirmed Kribs' conviction. The Court of Appeals could have inferred the trial judge didn't believe Kribs' story or gave more weight to the evidence that he always carried the gun inside his jacket pocket. But the trial judge said he believed Kribs didn't remember he had the gun on him and there was no malicious intent involved.

"We agree with Kribs that '[m]ere forgetfulness does not satisfy the knowledge or intent requirement set out by the statute,'" wrote the chief judge.

"The trial court observed the witnesses, weighed the evidence, and concluded that Kribs was unaware he had the handgun in his possession when he entered the airport and placed it on the x-ray conveyor belt."

The state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Kribs knowingly or intentionally possessed the handgun at the time of the events in question.

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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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