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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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  3. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  4. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

  5. Once again Indiana has not only shown what little respect it has for animals, but how little respect it has for the welfare of the citizens of the state. Dumping manure in a pond will most certainly pollute the environment and ground water. Who thought of this spiffy plan? No doubt the livestock industry. So all the citizens of Indiana have to suffer pollution for the gain of a few livestock producers who are only concerned about their own profits at the expense of everyone else who lives in this State. Shame on the Environmental Rules Board!

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