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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides two

In William T. Bradley v. State of Indiana, a 5-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:

The defendant, William T. Bradley, was charged with attempted murder as a class A felony, criminal confinement as a class B felony, and aggravated battery as a class B felony. After a jury trial, he was acquitted of attempted murder but convicted on the charges of criminal confinement and aggravated battery. His direct appeal raises three claims: insufficient evidence to prove criminal confinement, violation of the Indiana Double Jeopardy Clause, and abuse of sentencing discretion. The Court of Appeals affirmed in a 2-1 divided memorandum decision. The defendant's petition to transfer challenges only the rejection of his double jeopardy claim. We grant transfer and modify one of his convictions and his sentence.

In his appeal, the defendant contends that convictions for both criminal confinement and aggravated battery violate the "actual evidence test" for reviewing claims under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Indiana Constitution, because there is a reasonable possibility that the facts used by the jury to establish the essential elements of criminal confinement were also used to establish the essential elements of aggravated battery. The Court of Appeals majority decision rejected his claim, concluding "that there is a reasonable possibility that the jury used different evidentiary facts to convict Bradley of aggravated battery and criminal confinement." Bradley v. State (Ind. Ct. App. Oct. 16, 2006). Judge Vaidik dissented on this point, emphasizing that the "proper inquiry" is not whether there is a reasonable probability that, in convicting the defendant of both charges, the jury used different facts, but whether it is reasonably possible it used the same facts. She is correct. * * *

We grant transfer and find that the defendant's convictions for criminal confinement as a class B felony and aggravated battery as a class B felony violate the Indiana Double Jeopardy Clause. To remedy this violation, we affirm the defendant's conviction and fifteen year sentence for aggravated battery as a class B felony, and we reduce his conviction for criminal confinement from a class B to a class D felony, for which we sentence him to two and one-half years imprisonment, to be served consecutively with his sentence for aggravated battery, for an aggregate sentence of seventeen and one-half years. In all other respects, the decision of the Court of Ap-peals is summarily affirmed.

In Rick L. Smith v. State of Indiana, an Interlocutory Appeal from the Switzerland Superior Court, where the issue is whether a bus driver was a "child care worker" under the terms of the child seduction states (see CA opinion here - 2nd case) Justice Dickson writes:
A long-cherished principle of the American justice system is that a citizen may not be prosecuted for a crime without clearly falling within the statutory language defining the crime. This rule of law requires the granting of the defendant's motion to dismiss in this case. * * *

The undisputed basis of the State's allegation that the defendant was a child care worker is the fact that he was a Switzerland School Corporation school bus driver. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss this charge, asserting that he did not fall within the statutory definition of "child care worker." * * *

The undisputed facts establish that the defendant was not a "child care worker" as that phrase is defined to include "a person who . . . is employed by a . . . school corporation." He thus cannot be prosecuted in this case for the criminal offense of child seduction, a class D felony, as defined by the General Assembly. We reverse the denial of the defendant's motion to dismiss and remand to the trial court to grant the motion and for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur. Sullivan, J., would deny transfer, believing the opinion of the Court of Appeals in this case to be correct. Shepard, C.J., concurs with separate opinion, in which Boehm, J., joins.

SHEPARD, Chief Justice, concurring. [in a one-page opinion which concludes:] Distasteful as it may be given the facts of the present case, I think the Court does the right thing to use the regular, garden-variety definition of “em-ployed,” with the understanding that the General Assembly has the power to broaden the class of persons covered by the statute should it choose to do so.
Boehm, J., joins.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 13, 2007 11:47 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions