Housing agency, not court, ordered banned woman from properties

January 8, 2015

The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a woman’s argument that the court imposed as part of her trespass sentence an order to stay away from any properties owned by the Indianapolis Housing Agency.

Tajuanda Berry’s father lived in Barton Tower in Indianapolis, which is owned and managed by the IHA. For reasons not explained in the court record, Berry was informed by a Barton Tower security officer that she was no longer welcome on any of IHA’s properties and banned her from Barton Tower and all other IHA owned or managed properties. The security officer told Berry she would be arrested if she was found on the property again.

The next day, Berry went to her father’s apartment and the security officer called police after seeing her on surveillance video. Berry was arrested and charged with Class A misdemeanor trespass. She was found guilty at a bench trial where Marion Superior Judge Linda Brown told Berry at the end of her sentencing that she has to stay away from all IHA properties in Marion County. Berry said she understood she could be arrested if she went to any of the properties.

In Tajuanda Berry v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1403-CR-140, Berry claimed that the trial court erred by ordering her to stay away from the IHA properties and that the order should be vacated because it is overly broad and not related to any rehabilitative goal or maintenance of public safety.

The stay-away order was included in Berry’s sentence, Judge Rudolph Pyle III pointed out, as it was included in the abstract of judgment and the chronological case summary. But the judges pointed out that Brown explained that Berry could be charged with felony trespass if she went back to Barton Tower or any other IHA property. The court also did not appear to include that information when it pronounced her sentence, which included community service work.

“[W]e find that the trial court was reminding Berry of IHA’s ban and not imposing its own stay away order,” Pyle wrote.   



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