Court Cases By State - Indiana

Court Cases by Indiana

Brown v. State
659 N.E. 2d 671 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996)

Brown was convicted of two murders, and sentenced to 50 years in prison on each. On appeal he argued that the trial judge had failed to consider his FAS as a mitigating factor. 659 N.E. 2d at 674.

The sentencing judge did expressly consider eleven mitigating factors. The appellate court described one of those as being the fact that "Brown had a significant history of psychiatric referrals and diagnoses due to his behavioral problems." (659 N.E. 2d at 675). It is unclear whether this was a general mitigating factor that would have included FAS, or whether the sentencing judge did not expressly consider the FAS issue. If the latter, then it is unclear whether the appellate court did not recognize that that issue had been ignored, or merely felt that the judge's decision was otherwise so thorough that it should not be reversed merely because the opinion did not expressly mention a twelfth mitigating factor.

Davies v. State
758 N.E. 2d 981 (Ind. Ct. App. 2001)

Davies pled guilty to murder and several other crimes. We was sentenced to consecutive terms in prison totalling 108 years. He appealed the length of the sentence.

Davies argued that he should have received a shorter sentence because he had FAE. Indiana Law states that one of the mitigating factors at sentencing is whether "the defendant's capacity to appreciate the criminality of the defendant's conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirements of law was  substantially impaired as a result of mental disease or defect." 758 N.E. 2d at 988 (Emphasis added).

The sentencing judge recognized that Davies had FAE, but gave that factor only minimal weight in his sentencing decision. The sentencing judge explained that the FAE was

"mild at best. There's no evidence that they're severe in [Davies'] case. And although mild [FAE] are consistent with problem solving deficits, impulsivity, high levels of frustration and so forth, as the testimony came out, there is no evidence that mild [FAE] leads to violent sociopathic behavior. While [FAE] may help to explain [Davies], the evidence does not support a conclusion that he committed these horrible crimes because of FAE]."

758 N.E. 2d at 983. The report of Davies' expert

"did establish that Davies' behavior problems include 'impulsivity; poor planning; poor reasoning skills; difficulty in multi-tasking; difficulty in integrating information; memory impairment; and poorly controlled behavior.' It also indicated that Davies has neurocognitive strengths including an average IQ, reading and spelling scores at the high school level, arithmetic scores at a post-high school level, and an average capacity for social judgment and reasoning."

Davies' expert witness was a Dr. Paul Guastadisegni, who was described as a "neuropsychologist who frequently works with children suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome and FAE." 758 N.E. 2d at 988 n. 10.

The court of appeals concluded that the sentencing judge did not abuse his discretion in giving only minimal weight to FAE as a mitigator.

In the Matter of the Adoption of T.J.F.
798 N.E. 2d 867 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003)

The court's findings of fact included the following:

"Fetal Alcohol syndrome . . . has caused [T.H.] to have delays in psychological development and maturation which includes developmental delays in social interaction and academic developments."

798 N.E. 2d at 870.

"FAS children generally have difficulty sorting out realistic perceptions and social/relational situations and often misinterpret their environment. They require routine and consistency which are crucial to healthy developmental process."

Id.

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