Sunday, July 29, 2007

Parent's disciplining their children - Indiana

Generally speaking, my criminal practice is severely limited nowadays and so I missed Willis v. State when the Court of Appeals handed down its decision on May 17, 2007. I do try to keep up my reading of the Indiana Law Blog which noticed a South Bend Tribune article on the case's transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court and provided to an earlier ILB post on the case which follows:

Sophia Willis v. State of Indiana - "We sympathize with Willis’s argument that she is a single parent who is doing the best that she can, but we cannot condone her choice to whip her child with an extension cord to the point of causing him bruises and extended pain. The trial court is in the best position to determine what is reasonable under any given circumstances, and we must give substantial deference to the trial court’s decision herein. Willis’s argument that her behavior was justified under the circumstances is a request that we reweigh the evidence—a practice in which we do not engage when considering the sufficiency of the evidence. See Mitchell, 813 N.E.2d at 428 (finding that father’s argument that his actions were justified, not excessive, and merely parental discipline was an invitation to reweigh the evidence). We acknowledge that this was a closer case than some of the examples cited above, but ultimately, we cannot say that the trial court erred in finding sufficient evidence to convict Willis of class A misdemeanor battery on a child. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed."
My contracts law professor used the phrase "weasel words" when describing words like reasonable. The clients listen to us explaining reasonableness and I am sure we leave them somewhere between either completely confused or believing that lawyers can explain nothing. I doubt that the Indiana Supreme Court can make any rule that will clarify matters one iota. We fall back on reasonableness because the facts will vary from case to case and what would shock our consciences into saying that act is unreasonable comes from the facts of each case.

Until the Indiana Supreme Court does speak, I suggest all use common sense and not a bad temper when disciplining any child.

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