justice

Courtesy / ACLU

Indiana’s religious freedom law known as RFRA will be used for the first time in a suit challenging a new state law that bars sex offenders from churches.

A new law that went into effect Wednesday says people convicted of sex offenses against children cannot enter school property.  And ACLU-Indiana legal director Ken Falk says because that phrase “school property” is broadly written, it could mean that offenders can’t attend religious services if the church is next to a school. 

NPR / Doby Photography

Nina Totenberg has a lot of superlatives to her name.

As NPR's Legal Affairs Correspondent, she's a built a career as a legendary journalist, with a voice and style all her own. She's won countless awards for her work covering the U.S. Supreme Court and other legal matters. And she’s one of NPR’s "Founding Mothers," the group of female reporters who shaped the network from its earliest days.

One thing she's not: a fortune-teller.

Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

A Senate committee Tuesday approved legislation expanding the statute of limitations in rape cases.

Under current law, the statute of limitations to prosecute for rape is five years.  Jenny Ewing, a former Indiana resident, says she was raped in 2005 but, in her words, “made the mistake” of not reporting it. 

Her attacker recently confessed to police, but because the five-year statute of limitations had expired, authorities were unable to prosecute him. 

File

An attorney for former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White says state law was misapplied when White was convicted in 2012 of six criminal counts stemming from voter fraud.  Arguments in the case took place Tuesday before the state Court of Appeals.

White’s appeal included several arguments – the jury wasn’t properly instructed, selective prosecution, his attorney at the time – Carl Brizzi – was ineffective. 

But when pressed by the Appeals Court judges for the strongest argument, White’s current attorney Andrea Ciobanu says it’s misapplication of the law. 

The Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges says the state needs to put more money into providing public defenders for juveniles.  The announcement comes ahead of a new rule that will create a greater need for those lawyers.

Indiana Criminal Rule 25 mandates that juveniles in the court system must be provided a lawyer – often a public defender – in certain circumstances. 

The Indiana Attorney General’s office says it hasn’t decided whether to appeal a ruling allowing atheist leaders to solemnize marriages in the state.  That’s despite the group that brought the lawsuit – atheist group Center for Inquiry – announcing its victory Thursday.  Still, CFI Executive Director Reba Boyd Wooden still says she’s ready to perform marriages.

Courtesy / Wikimedia Commons

Joe Hogsett says the U.S. Attorney’s office’s focus on public corruption cases won’t lessen even as he leaves his role leading the office to join the private sector.

Hogsett says when he took office in 2010, a District Court judge told him the office of U.S. Attorney for Indiana’s Southern District hadn’t prosecuted a public corruption case in 20 years. 

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The full General Assembly will meet at the Statehouse Tuesday to make changes to the state’s criminal code overhaul before the law takes effect July first.

The bulk of Indiana’s overhaul of the criminal code was passed in 2013.  But lawmakers put off its effective date until this summer so they could make further changes during the 2014 legislative session. 

In the wake of this year’s session, legislators and prosecutors have identified a few issues, mostly involving technical errors within the more than four hundred page bill. 

Follow-up legislation to last year’s criminal code overhaul bill is headed to the Senate floor after a committee Thursday added potential funding help for local communities.

The purpose behind the state’s criminal code overhaul was in part to divert low-level offenders away from prison and into local community corrections programs.  But so far, the General Assembly hasn’t done much to provide those local programs more money. 

Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley says, for now, the legislature can begin to address local needs by creating a grant program.

Indiana’s attorney general will work with the state’s congressional delegation in the new year to try to secure more federal funding for police officers in schools.  But some criminal justice advocates say hiring new school resource officers won’t necessarily make schools safer.

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