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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today

In Christopher Bailey v. State of Indiana, a 7-page, 5-0 opinion, Chief Justice Shepard writes:

Christopher Bailey, convicted of battery and disorderly conduct as the result of an early morning confrontation in his high school, has argued on appeal that there is insufficient evidence to support his convictions. The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed both convictions. We granted transfer and now affirm on both counts, concluding that the evidence demonstrates Bailey intentionally touched the assistant principal in a rude, insolent, or angry manner and also engaged in tumultuous conduct with the dean of students. * * *

I. The Evidence to Support Battery. To convict Bailey of battery, the State was required to prove he “knowingly or intentionally touche[d] another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.” Ind. Code § 35-42-2-1 (2008). * * *

How close Bailey was to Assistant Principal Brewer at the moment she extended her arm is a legitimate question of fact bearing on whether Bailey committed a knowing touching. Here, the testimony by the school staff and by Bailey provided the trier of fact with sufficient evidence to conclude Bailey was aware that Assistant Principal Brewer’s arm barred his way and knowingly pushed through it. We conclude the State proved a knowing touching in a rude, insolent, or angry manner.

II. The Evidence on Disorderly Conduct. To convict Bailey of disorderly conduct, the State was required to prove he recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engaged in fighting or in tumultuous conduct. Ind. Code § 35-45-1-3(a)(1) (2008). Tumultuous conduct is defined as conduct that results in, or is likely to result in, serious bodily injury to a person or substantial damage to property. Ind. Code § 35-45-1-1 (2008). Bailey contends his actions do not rise to the requisite level to fulfill the statutory definition of tumultuous conduct.

There are relatively few Indiana decisions examining tumultuous conduct in the context of the sufficiency of the evidence to support a disorderly conduct conviction. * * *

It was reasonable for the trier of fact to conclude that, but for the officer’s arrival, Bailey’s conduct would have escalated. Although Bailey did not produce a weapon as B.R. did, his clinched fists and the testimony of Dean Knight (“I felt like he was ready to hit me”) were sufficient to conclude serious bodily injury was likely to result.

The trier of fact could reasonably infer that serious bodily injury would result had Officer Hunter not arrived given Bailey’s anger in approaching Dean Knight, throwing his coat and drink, his verbal tirade, and his clinched fists. The evidence was thus sufficient to convict.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 18, 2009 03:42 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions