Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Dearborn County Trial Court Abused Its Discretion

Dearborn County Trial Court Abused Its Discretion

According to Indiana Court of Appeals

FOR PUBLICATION – Filed June 5, 2012






Indiana Attorney General of Indiana


Deputy Attorney General

Indianapolis, Indiana





vs. No. 15A01-1109-CR-436




The Honorable Sally Blankenship, Judge

Cause No. 15D02-0805-FA-001

June 5, 2012


ROBB, Chief Judge

BAKER, J., and SHEPARD, Sr. J., concur.

For the details in the rest of the appeal court’s ruling, go to

A summary news article of this case from The Indiana Lawyer website is below:

Revocation of probation was court error

Jenny Montgomery

June 5, 2012

A trial court erred when it revoked a man’s probation, because it failed to consider several factors before issuing that order, Indiana’s Court of Appeals ruled.

A trial court erred when it revoked a man’s probation, because it failed to consider several factors before issuing that order, Indiana’s Court of Appeals ruled.

In James Ripps v. State of Indiana, No. 15A01-1109-CR-436, James Ripps pleaded guilty to child molesting as a Class C felony in March 2009 for molesting his son in 1997 or 1998. He was sentenced to eight years, with six years and 300 days suspended to probation.

In 2011, the state filed a probation revocation petition, alleging Ripps committed a Class D felony when he failed to comply with sex offender registry requirements. Ripps had been living within 1,000 feet of a youth program center and failed to inform all people living at his residence of his sexual conviction. Ripps admitted the violations and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the remaining portion of his sentence in prison.

Ripps, who is terminally ill, entered an assisted living facility in March 2011 and informed the sheriff of his new address. The sheriff told Ripps that his new residence was within 1,000 feet of a public library, which qualifies as a youth program center. The state filed notice of a probation violation and arrested Ripps, and the court ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence – two years and 266 days – in prison.

Ripps moved to correct error, contending his conviction for failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements, and the subsequent probation revocation, violated the Indiana and United States Constitutions’ prohibitions against ex post facto application of the law because the statute giving rise to such criminal act took effect in July 2006 and his qualifying offense occurred prior to that time. The trial court agreed and vacated the conviction; by that time, he had already served 1 to 1-1/2 years in prison.

The state had claimed only that Ripps committed a new crime; it had not specifically mentioned Ripps living within 1,000 feet of a youth program center.

The appellate court held that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking Ripps’ probation, given his medical condition and his attempt to adhere to the terms of his probation. The COA also held that the distance between the residential facility and the library was about 20 feet shy of 1,000 feet, and some ambiguity existed about how that distance was calculated.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I don't have a whole lot of compassion for child molesters, no matter how bad their health is. They are never rehabiliated. They can't be cured. And 20 feet? Sound like an honest mistake to me.
You're picking the wrong battle with this one.

Anonymous said...

What battle? No one stands with a child molester. Including the COA. They're job is to call strikes and balls. Nothing more.

Anonymous said...

From Anon 2 to Anon 3:
Let me re-phrase. Never said that COA was standing by child molesters. Never even said this decision shouldn't have been challenged.
" 'You're' " refers to this blog, which is obviously promoting the candidacy of Blankenship's opponent. It's just not a good choice of "battle."

To coin a phrase, you can do better.

HK said...

This is an open blog. The people using it generally determine the content. If you think Allen Miller's opponent deserves to remain on the bench, make your case.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Anon II "...obviously promoting the candidacy of Blankenship's opponent..." is faulty logic.

It is the equivalent of going from Point A to Point Z with nothing to support the in-between.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for illuminating details here of areas with need for public oversight and an honesty check.
I and others appreciate the fact finding. "Making their own rules up as they go along" is very costly to the County, not to mention the impact on people and families when our justice system breaks it'w own rules.
I disagree about this site endorsing a candidate. I call it a support of integrity and accountability. If that means new candidates, so be it.

Anonymous said...

I see PUBLIC FORUM as a kind of ringing bell calling locals to heed questionable actions of our government as well as as an information venue.

Anonymous said...

Look, I don't have a dog in this fight, and am not looking to make a case for or against anybody.

Was just thinking that whomever posted the COA item could use a bit of advice in making his or her case.

All I am saying is, find a better example. A child molester doesn't engender much sympathy.

You guys as getting all
wee-wee'd up (as our President would say) over nothing.

HK said...

Even criminals have rights.
Ripps originally got "eight years, six years and three hundred days of which were suspended to probation." So he only served 1 year and 65 days. The courts latest ruling seemed punitive rather than protective. What changed?
THREE respected judges said our judge ABUSED her discretion. That's not a correction that a judge should take lightly.

Anonymous said...

Bingo HK! You made the point of the post exactly. The issue is not about Ripps it is about the judge...In my view anyway.