Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Ind. Decision - Charges dismissed as a result of last week's Supreme Court decision
The case against Robert "Bobby" Patterson of Bloomfield was dismissed Tuesday after both the defense and the prosecution had filed motions in Greene Superior Court requesting the case be dropped.
Patterson was charged in late March with failure to register as a sex or violent offender, a class D felony.The 62-year-old Patterson is considered a violent offender because of his conviction on Nov. 12, 1981, of the murder of 15-year-old Kathy Sanford in Bloomfield in late January, 1980. At the age of 35, Patterson was sentenced to 40 years in prison. With "good time" credit, he completed his sentence and was released from prison in 2002.
Patterson current offense was charged under the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registration Act.
When this registration law was enacted, it only applied to sex offenders. In 2007, the law was amended to include violent offenders -- five years after Patterson was released from prison on the murder conviction.
Both motions for dismissal were prompted by an Indiana Supreme Court decision handed down last Thursday in a similar case involving Richard Wallace, a convicted sex offender. Patterson is a convicted violent offender. Both were required to register under Indiana law.
In both cases, they were charged, convicted and had served their sentence for their crime before the requirement for them to register was enacted. In Wallace's case, it was the requirement to register as a sex offender, in Patterson's, as a violent offender.
The defense motion to dismiss pointed out, "The Indiana Constitution provides that 'no ex post facto law ... shall ever be passed.'""Ex post facto" is a Latin term for "after the fact." A general explanation of an ex post facto law is a law that is retroactive, or that changes the consequences of a crime after the crime was committed.
In the Wallace case, he had already completed a sentence for child molesting before the Act was enacted. When the decision was made last Thursday, the court said Wallace's conviction violated the state constitution's prohibition of retroactive laws. * * *
The first motion to dismiss the Patterson case was filed Monday morning by Greene County Public Defender Alan Baughman who was appointed to represent Patterson.
The defense motion contended that the law under which Patterson has been charged, the Indiana Sex and Violent Offender Registration Act, subjected him to punishment which is prohibited under the Indiana Constitution.
The second motion was filed Tuesday by Greene County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Jackson-Stone.
The state's motion requested the court dismiss the case for the reason that it cannot proceed with prosecution due to the recent Indiana Supreme Court decision in Wallace v. State.
On Tuesday morning, Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw said he had read the Wallace decision.
"We have no choice," said Holtsclaw. "The Indiana Supreme Court does have the final say on Indiana laws. Unless it's taken to the United States Supreme Court, we have to abide by the Indiana Supreme Court's decision." * * *
Holtsclaw said most people in Indiana's judicial arena have been waiting on this decision for quite some time.
Not only does the ruling affect the Patterson case, but it is expected to affect many other cases in the state.
"This could affect hundreds, maybe thousands, of other cases. We're trying to see how many other cases in Greene County will be affected. I've asked the Public Defender's Office to take a look at other cases," said Holtsclaw.