ILNews

Justices grant 2 transfers

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court granted two transfers this week:

One case involves the probation revocation that followed a man's questionable communications with minor children he wasn't supposed to be around. The other involves a question of which "home state" child custody and visitation issues should be heard based on federal and state statutes.

In Theron W. Hunter v. State of Indiana, No. 69A01-0702-CR-061, the court will take up an issue addressed in an unpublished memorandum decision from the Court of Appeals in June. The action stems from Ripley County where Hunter pleaded guilty to child molesting in 2001 and served his time, was released, and put on probation. He bought a trailer on his father's property, living about 25 feet from another trailer where his sister and three children resided. He informed everyone about not being able to be around the kids, and his probation officer told Hunter he'd have to change the arrangement. Hunter said he was around the children at times but left when they came nearby and never actually communicated with them. A probation violation was filed and the trial court determined Hunter had violated his probation. It revoked probation and ordered him to serve the entire four-year suspended sentence.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals determined there was sufficient evidence to support the probation revocation because Hunter had admitted he came into contact with the minor children multiple times and didn't notify his probation officer within 24 hours. Hunter had argued he didn't have actual communications with them, while the state sought the revocation based on his prohibited contact.

Justices also granted transfer in a marriage case, Anthony N. Stewart v. Signe L. (Stewart) Vulliet, No. 12A02-0610-CV-896. This case from Clinton Superior Court involves child custody and visitation issues being handled by courts in both the states of Washington and Indiana and how the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act and Indiana Code 31-17-3 apply.

The mother and father married in August 1992 in Washington and lived there for 11 years before moving to Indiana where Stewart's family resided, though Vulliet's family continued living in Washington. She filed for dissolution in November 2003 in Indiana before moving back to Washington, where the couple's daughter was born in February 2004.

The Clinton Superior judge eventually granted the mother's motion to dismiss custody and visitation issues pursuant to the state and federal statutes, in that Indiana is an inconvenient forum because the child was born in Washington and has always been the home state. However, the court ordered that child support issues would remain in Indiana.

Indiana appellate judges wrote in a May 30 opinion that the mother waived any objection regarding the daughter's home state under the UCCJA because she didn't bring it up initially. But the appeals court also reversed the trial court's granting of her motion to dismiss custody and visitation issues.

"The Washington court clearly gave Mother a more favorable custody arrangement and visitation schedule than the Indiana court had ordered .... The timing and sequence of events in this case give the appearance that Mother was attempting to manipulate the UCCJA to gain a favorable result," the court wrote, citing past appellate caselaw from 1999. "We conclude that ... the trial court erred by granting Mother's motion to dismiss the custody and visitation issues based on inconvenient forum."
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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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