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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ind. Courts - Reports of two COA oral arguments held Tuesday

Tuesday's oral argument before a Court of Appeals panel in the case of Robert E. Redington v. State of Indiana is the subject of a long story in the Bloomington Herald-Times ($$$), reported by Laura Lane. Some quotes:

Should disturbing and deadly shooting sprees in movie theaters and elementary schools play a role in deciding if it’s constitutional to take away a man’s guns because of a concern he might someday use the weapons to harm others?

Indiana Court of Appeals Judge Elaine Brown’s query was the heart of a 40-minute debate before a three-judge panel Tuesday regarding the fate of Robert Redington and the 51 shotguns, rifles and pistols Bloomington police confiscated from him last fall. Appellate Court Judge Cale Bradford seemed uncomfortable with the notion of pre-emptive gun seizure unless a person is deemed mentally ill. “To decide this case on what happened in those situations runs contrary to deciding every case, and law, on its own merits,” he said as lawyers argued both sides. “Those were terrible situations, but we cannot react emotionally.”

In September, Monroe Circuit Judge Mary Ellen Diekhoff ruled that 56-year-old Redington, from Indianapolis, was dangerous and should not be allowed to possess or use guns, despite the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting Americans the right to bear arms.

She also revoked his license to carry a handgun. Under the law, he can challenge the ruling in Monroe Circuit Court every six months. Once five years have passed, the judge can convene a hearing and order police to destroy the guns.

Redington decided to appeal Diekhoff’s decision at the state level, and Tuesday afternoon, attorney Guy Relford argued Redington’s position. He said his client was never diagnosed as mentally ill and that any speculation he might become dangerous in the future is unfair and violates his rights. * * *

“They diagnosed him with a personality disorder and said he was not dangerous. He was not a danger to himself or others,” Relford said.

Attorney Brian Reitz from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office said Diekhoff’s ruling should stand because of the nature of Redington’s actions and the fact that he owned more than 50 guns, mostly rifles and shotguns, and had an ammunition-loading station in his basement and enough bullets and shells to fill the bed of a pickup truck.

Redington came to the attention of Bloomington police the night of Aug. 4, 2012, when two officers confronted him on the third floor of the parking garage at Seventh and Walnut streets in downtown Bloomington. He had a hand-held range finder and was watching people come and go from Kilroy’s Sports bar across the street. Redington had two guns in his pants pockets and a shotgun in the trunk of his car.

He said he had been shooting at a state park in the area, and also searching for missing Indiana University student Lauren Spierer. He talked about thinking he had met Spierer and that he had a premonition about her abduction and felt guilty he had not warned her. Police interrogated him for three hours before taking him to the hospital for a mental health evaluation.

Reitz said Redington’s actions and his strange behavior, combined with his personality disorder and the number of guns he owns, are reasons to restrict his possession of firearms.

“There is more than just speculation here that he might be a danger,” Reitz said. “There’s no reason the state has to wait until there is actual violence before we can act. We can look to the future.”

He said the government’s interest in protecting public safety should trump Redington’s right to own guns.

But Relford disagreed. “You have to have dangerousness, and documented evidence of that,” he said.

That was a case out of Monroe County, with the oral argument held here in the Statehouse. Another case out of Monroe County, Winston K. Wood v. State of Indiana, was heard Tuesday by a COA panel that traveled to Angola. Laura Lane has the byline for that story ($$$) also. Some quotes:
ANGOLA — Three Indiana Court of Appeals judges listened to arguments surrounding a 2010 fatal boating crash on Lake Monroe Tuesday in Angola.

The hearing at Trine University Center was an installment of “Appeals on Wheels.” The Angola visit was in conjunction with Hoosier Boys State, and the hearing room was filled with high school-aged boys who listened to an hour’s arguments by defense attorney Stacy Uliana and Ian McLean from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office.

They debated legal and statutory points in the case of Winston Wood, convicted by a Monroe County jury of leaving the scene of a boating crash that resulted in the deaths of two people. Wood was convicted in July 2012 and sentenced to two years in jail, two years on home detention, two years on probation and a $1,000 fine. Wood, 22, has completed his time behind bars and is now serving home detention. He attended Tuesday’s hearing. * * *

The Monroe County trial spanned a week last June, with emotional testimony about the incident that killed a Lawrence County woman and her 8-year-old grandson. The collision involved Wood’s ski boat and a fishing boat carrying Rusty Collier, his wife Susan, and their triplet grandsons.

The state statute cited in the case was interpreted by McLean to require Wood to remain at the scene of the crash until help had been provided to those injured or he was in danger. Collier contends Wood refused to help him try to save his wife — who was partially decapitated in the crash — saying that Collier would have to save her himself, and then sped away.

Uliana said state law requiring a person to remain at the crash site until the authorities arrive does not properly take into account the chaotic nature of such a scene. “Anyone involved in such emotional situations can become a criminal,” she said.

After the attorneys provided the details of their cases, with questions and prompting by Judges John G. Baker, James S. Kirsch and Melissa S. May, the court was adjourned and the judges took questions from the youths in the audience.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 20, 2013 08:38 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts