The Indiana Supreme Court granted three transfers Wednesday, including a case of first impression on sentence enhancements.
Joshua G. Nicoson v. State of Indiana, No. 32S04-1003-CR-150, is a case of first impression that divided the Indiana Court of Appeals about whether Joshua Nicoson's sentence enhancement based on his use of a deadly weapon violated double-jeopardy principals. The majority affirmed his 5-year sentence enhancement for the use of a firearm following Nicoson's convictions of criminal confinement with a deadly weapon and pointing a firearm.
The majority concluded it was apparent that Nicoson's convictions for confinement and the enhancement for that offense relied on separate facts. His criminal confinement conviction was elevated to a Class B felony because he was armed with a deadly weapon, and there's no requirement that the state has to prove a defendant actually used the weapon during the commission of the offense. The enhancement provision refers to actual use.
Judge Carr Darden dissented because Nicoson was charged and convicted of confining the victims while armed with a deadly weapon and of using a firearm while committing the confinement. If the deadly weapon is a firearm, how could a person thereby armed not also commit the offense of confinement using a firearm, questioned Judge Darden.
In Richard Patrick Wilson and Billy Don Wilson v. Gene Isaacs, Sheriff of Cass County, and Brad Craven, No. 09S05-1003-CV-149, the Court of Appeals held the use of excessive force is not conduct immunized under Section 3(8) of the Indiana Tort Claims Act. It reversed summary judgment in favor of Cass County Sheriff Gene Isaacs in the Wilson brothers' suit alleging injuries as a result of excessive force. The appellate court noted there has been some confusion whether the ITCA law enforcement immunity provision applies to claims for injuries resulting from the use of excessive force during detention or arrest.
There are questions about whether Kemezy v. Peters, 622 N.E.2d 1296 (Ind. 1993), still remains good law. In Kemezy, the Supreme Court found law enforcement officers owe a private duty to refrain from excessive force when making arrests and the use of excessive force isn't immunized by Section 3(8). The judges followed the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana's reasoning on Kemezy to conclude the use of excessive force is not conduct immunized under section 3(8) of the ITCA.
In In the matter of the involuntary termination of the parent-child relationship of I.A.; J.H. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, No. 62S01-1003-JV-148, the Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the involuntary termination of father J.H.'s parental rights in the not-for-publication decision. The father argued the Department of Child Services didn't prove by clear and convincing evidence that the conditions that resulted in I.A.'s removal wouldn't be remedied and that his relationship with his son threatened I.A.'s well-being. He argued it was I.A.'s mother's behavior and acts of negligence and not his that led to I.A.'s initial removal from his mother's home.
The Court of Appeals found sufficient evidence, such as J.H. hadn't bonded with his child and he lacked proper parenting skills after months of training.