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Friday, March 08, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "State AG wants Smith conviction reinstated" [Updated]

Attorney General Zoeller has filed a petition to transfer in the case of Christopher Smith v. State of Indiana, according to this story today by Douglas Walker in the Muncie Star Press.

[Update] Here is the Attorney General's petition to transfer.

Here is the ILB summary of the January 30th 2-1 ruling (3rd case). The question in the case was whether ex-Central principal Chris Smith failed to immediately report child abuse or neglect. The majority ruled:

An allegation that an individual has engaged in child abuse is a serious claim, and a reasonable investigation made in good faith of such an allegation prior to making a report is not improper and does not deprive the person required to make such a report of statutory immunity. See Phillips v. Behnke, 531 N.W.2d 619, 623 (Wis. Ct. App. 1995) (“An allegation that an individual has engaged in improper sexual behavior with a child is extremely damaging both to the individual’s reputation and career. Accordingly, investigating the reasonableness of one’s belief that a teacher has engaged in sexual misconduct prior to making a report is proper and does not deprive the individual of immunity.”).
Judge Vaidik dissented, writing:
I believe that doing so disregards the evidence most favorable to the verdict and undermines Indiana’s child-abuse reporting statute. Further, the majority cites with approval case law from other jurisdictions that permits verification of a child’s allegations of abuse before making a report. I believe such a verification process is contrary to statute and, if permitted, may have the highly undesirable result of suppressing or deterring reports of abuse.
For background, see this ILB entry from Jan. 31st.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 8, 2013 08:51 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions