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Monday, March 24, 2014

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court posts opinion filed Friday, construing Juvenile Mental Health Statute’s limited immunity as prohibiting both use and derivative use of a juvenile’s statements to prove delinquency

In State of Indiana v. I.T., a 10-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Rush writes:

More than half of children entering the Indiana juvenile justice system have mental health or substance abuse problems. In response, Indiana has established a pilot project to screen and treat juveniles suffering from these issues. To facilitate participation in the project, the Legislature en-acted the Juvenile Mental Health Statute, barring a child’s statement to a mental health evaluator from being admitted into evidence to prove delinquency. We construe that statute to confer both use immunity and derivative use immunity, in order to avoid a likely violation of the constitutional privileges against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment and Article 1, Section 14 of the Indiana Constitution. We therefore affirm the trial court. * * *

We conclude that the State may appeal a juvenile court order that suppresses evidence, if doing so terminates the proceeding. We also construe the Juvenile Mental Health Statute’s limited immunity as prohibiting both use and derivative use of a juvenile’s statements to prove delin-quency—a safe harbor that honors the Legislature’s intent, while avoiding any question of the Statute’s constitutionality that would otherwise be implicated. We therefore affirm the trial court.

ILB Note: This opinion is NOT new, see this post from later in the same day.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 24, 2014 08:38 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions