Indiana State University Newsroom

Court of Appeals returns to Hoosier Girls State

June 25, 2012

Judge Betty Barteau practiced law in the state of the Indiana since 1965, a time she said the legal system was not as favorable to women as the present.

Barteau graduated with honors from law school but the legal system treated women as inferior despite possessing similar qualifications as their male peers.

"I have to say the first few years were challenging," Barteau said addressing nearly 600 young girls attending the 71st annual Hoosier Girls State. "Today is a different world."

Barteau made up one of the three panel judges of the Court of Appeals of Indiana who listened to arguments as part of the Appeals on Wheels program, which took place on Indiana State University campus Thursday. Appeals on Wheels educates the public by moving court cases to various Indiana venues, including Girls State for the second year.

The panel consisted of Judge Melissa May, Judge John Baker and Barteau. Scott King represented the defendant Donald Huls who sought to appeal conviction on two counts of criminal recklessness and prosecutor Ian McClean represented the state.

"I had never had an experience like this before," Frankfort High School student Emily Parks said. "I didn't know that this whole process even existed."

She learned about it through observing Huls' appeal on a case that occurred in Valparaiso. Huls returned home late at night from a family vacation when his life intersected with those of four teenagers.

While unloading the family vehicle at the back of the house Huls heard a noise from the wooded area behind his house. In response, he began to yell and eventually began firing his gun into the woods. The four teenagers, walking past the woods to a friend's house after a graduation party, heard the shots. One of the teenagers yelled, "We're getting out of here. We're going. Stop shooting."

In the trial court, Huls acknowledged hearing someone yelling at him to stop from the woods but continued to shoot before going inside and contacting the authorities. One of Huls' shots hit a teenager in the right leg before they got away from the area.A trial court found Huls guilty on two counts of criminal recklessness.

King's appeal to the court on the behalf of Huls focused on the alleged failure by the trial court to instruct the jury correctly on self-defense and the allegation hat the judge didn't possess sufficient evidence to deny Huls' self -defense claim under the Castle Law of Indiana before it was amended. McClean rebutted King's argument by stating that the teenage boys were never on Huls' property so the Castle Law allowing him to use reasonable force does not apply. McClean also said the evidence of the case suggested that Huls' could not have reasonably believed he was in danger.

The appellate judges will render an opinion at a later date.

Following the hearing the judges stepped down and answered questions from the high school girls attending Hoosier Girls State. Questions ranged from the appeal process judge's personal experiences in law and advice for someone who wanted to work in courts.

For the past week at Indiana State the high school girls learned about the political system and government through the week-long Hoosier Girls State program.

"I was very, very apprehensive about coming her," Blackford High School student, Ali Confer said. "As time went on I realized I have a role in changing the state, I can do it and it has opened so much more and I respect my country so much more. I feel very patriotic and I am very blessed to be here."

Photo: Court of Appeals Judge Melissa May, Judge John Baker and Judge Betty Barteau listen as attorney Ian McClean makes his argument before the court. ISU Photo

Writer: Ernest Rollins, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773.