Sunday, May 19, 2013
Ind. Courts - More on "Indiana court rulings make it harder to prosecute child abusers, advocates say"
The long story included this quote from Prof. Joel Schumm (a valued contributor to the ILB):
Some are defending the court’s rulings. Joel Schumm, a respected professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said the rulings could make prosecutions more difficult, but he believes they have brought into better balance the scales of justice.When I checked the online comments to Tully's story this morning, I was very surprised to read this comment from the subject of Tully's column:
Laurie Gray · Founder & Principal at Socratic Parenting LLCReally! The ILB could not let this pass. Joel Schumm is the last person I would pidgeon-hole as an Ivy Tower professor. Consider a few quotes I have taken directly from a public document, his application last summer to fill an upcoming Court of Appeals vacancy:
Thank you, Matt, for sharing this important news with your readers. As I read the first two comments, I realize that everyone wants to be tough on convicted sex offenders—enforcing harsher punishments and requiring more stringent sex offender registration.
It’s this type of vengeance that weighs most heavily against defendants and raises concern for those like Professor Schumm, who want to “balance the scales.” But two wrongs don’t make a right.
Professor Schumm’s opinions are academic and his experience is on paper rather than with people. He graduated from law school in 1998, served as a judicial clerk in the Indiana Appellate and Supreme Courts for three years and then became a law professor. Those who have never tried a child molesting case for either the State or the defense, have no experience is working with children, and perhaps never even observed a child on the stand at trial are making blanket decisions that children do not tell the truth and should not be believed. Silencing children does not bring us closer to the truth.
- I have litigated more than eighty appeals as a contractual appellate public defender with the Marion County Public Defender Agency. The majority of appeals have been adult felony cases and juvenile delinquency cases. I have also been assigned cases involving civil (mental health) commitments and contempt findings. Each appeal has involved, at a minimum, reviewing the trial record, speaking with trial counsel and the client, researching the pertinent legal issues, and filing a brief on behalf of the appellant. I have also filed a reply brief in nearly every case. Oral argument was scheduled in several of these cases. If the client did not prevail in the Court of Appeals, I have often filed a petition to transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court. [p. 4]
- For three and a half years while attending law school in the evening, I worked as a clerk/bailiff in a major felony court in Marion County. My duties included overseeing jurors during trial and deliberations and sometimes assisting with jury instructions. Through more than sixty jury trials, I was able to gain a deep understanding and appreciation for the role of the jury in our system of justice and learned a great deal through post-verdict discussions with jurors. [p. 5]
- In 2008 I created the Appellate Clinic at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law through which second or third-year students who are certified legal interns represent indigent clients on appeal under my supervision. We file briefs on behalf of clients and have presented oral arguments in cases before both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Students generally present the primary part of the argument, and I usually do the rebuttal.
Over the past four years we have represented more than twenty individuals, primarily in criminal cases referred through the Marion County Public Defender Agency. I have also accepted cases through other channels. For example, the trial lawyer in a child custody case from Greene County contacted me about representing his client, the mother of three children who lost custody to the paternal grandparents although she was not alleged to be unfit. * * *
I have also represented or assisted other lawyers in representing juveniles pro bono in delinquency proceedings. For example, I represented a fifteen-year-old Jennings County boy with a very minor history of delinquency in seeking an interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s decision to waive his burglary case to adult court. The trial court certified the issue for interlocutory appeal, but the Court of Appeals declined to accept the case. A.D. v. State, No. 40A01-1102-JV-00030. In another case I served as co-counsel for a fifteen-year-old girl who was charged with child molesting for having consensual sex with another girl two years her junior. A.S. v. State, 79D03-0904-JD-163. We filed several motions challenging the prosecution, and the prosecutor agreed to offer a withheld judgment after the judge had a lengthy discussion with counsel in chambers. Finally, I have assisted with some Marion County juvenile cases involving the issue of out-of-statement placements. [p.9-10]
- Since 2006 I have also directed the Court Externship program, which places second and third-year law students with judges throughout Indiana and farther reaches of the country during the summer. Students gain invaluable experience and a practical understanding of the court system through discussing, researching, and writing about a wide range of cases. I coordinate the placements, which includes an initial interview of students who apply for the program, holding about three classes each semester with all externs who are placed with a judge, assigning and reading two reflective essays, and holding at least two individual meetings with each student. The program has expanded over the years to include about thirty students each semester. [p. 18]
I regularly tell my students at SPEA that I have often thought that the only thing near as bad as a child molester is someone who falsely accused someone of being a child molester. Equal with our obligation to protect our children is the obligation that the innocent are never falsely convicted. The accusation alone carries with it a lifetime of suspicion regardless the evidence. We have made great strides in this area of the law on both sides in the past 50 years. Flippant comments like hers only retard that growth on BOTH sides. Failure to see that merely demonstrates we still have far to go.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 19, 2013 07:45 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions