VU in the News

March 14, Indiana Court of Appeals at VU

March 3, 2017 / March 14, Indiana Court of Appeals at VU

VINCENNES, Ind. - The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in the case Joseph Lee Pierson v. State of Indiana on March 14, 12:50 p.m. (EST), at Vincennes University’s Shircliff Auditorium. The event is open to the public.

The annual program is hosted by VU’s Legal Studies program and gives students the unique opportunity to observe oral argument proceedings and then engage with the participants to discuss the Indiana Court System.

A three-member panel of judges will hear the following case: On February 5, 2012, four-month-old K.H. - Joseph Pierson’s son - passed away due to severe malnutrition. Pierson suffers from severe mental retardation. Pierson was ultimately convicted of and sentenced for class A felony neglect of a dependent resulting in death. On appeal, Pierson asks that this conviction be reversed and that a conviction for reckless homicide (which the jury also found him guilty of, but was vacated out of double jeopardy concerns) should be entered instead. Pierson argues that he could not have the requisite intent for neglect of a dependent because of his mental handicap, and that someone with his handicap cannot be legally obligated to take care of another person. Pierson also challenges the use of a video deposition of a State witness, which violated the jury’s right to ask that witness questions. Finally, Pierson argues that a State expert witness should not have been allowed to testify that an insanity defense can only be proven by demonstrating “psychosis.”

Since its centennial in 2001, the Court has heard oral argument in venues across the state to enable Hoosiers to learn about the judicial branch. Sites typically include law schools, colleges, high schools, and county courthouses.

The Indiana Court of Appeals is the state's second-highest court and it reviews appeals from trial court decisions. A decision of the Indiana Court of Appeals is final unless reviewed by the Indiana Supreme Court on grant of further review. The majority of appeals filed in Indiana are decided by the Court of Appeals.

The 15-member Court of Appeals issues some 2,500 written opinions each year, sitting in three-judge panels.

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