Justices take 3 cases

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The Indiana Supreme Court accepted transfer of three cases last week, including a case in which the Indiana Court of Appeals lengthened a man’s sentence.

In Jeffrey E. Akard v. State of Indiana, No. 79S02-1009-CR-478, the Court of Appeals increased Jeffrey Akard’s sentence for rape and other convictions by 25 years. Akard claimed his sentence for multiple counts of rape, criminal deviate conduct, criminal confinement, and battery was inappropriate and should be revised to run concurrently so he would have a 40-year sentence.

But the judges decided to lengthen his 93-year sentence to 118 years because his is a “most unusual case,” citing Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore Boehm's concurring opinion in McCullough v. State, 900 N.E.2d 745, 750 (Ind. 2009). The judges found the trial court sentenced Akard below the statutory minimum on several counts. The appellate court upheld Akard’s increased sentence in a rehearing in June.

In Howard Regional Health System, et al. v. Jacob Gordon, et al., No. 34S02-1009-CV-476, the Court of Appeals held if a hospital or medical provider loses records so that a patient can’t pursue a medical malpractice claim, state law lets that patient pursue a separate civil action for spoliation of evidence. The judges found a private cause of action is established under Indiana Code Section 16-39-7-1 regarding the consequences of violating the state’s medical record retention statute.

Jacob Gordon’s mother, Lisa, filed a medical malpractice suit and asked for evidence from the hospital where Jacob was born. Howard Community Hospital took 18 months to tell her that the information couldn’t be found. The appellate court affirmed partial summary judgment against the hospital for spoliation of evidence.

In Kevin Taylor v. State of Indiana, No. 20S04-1009-PC-477, the Court of Appeals split on the impact of a jury instruction on robbery in Kevin Taylor’s trial. Taylor was convicted of felony murder during a robbery; he filed for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel because his attorney didn’t object to the final instructions, which did not instruct on the elements of robbery.

The judges held Taylor met his burden of showing the post-conviction court erred by ruling his counsel hadn’t performed deficiently, but only Judge Cale Bradford believed Taylor wasn’t prejudiced by his attorney’s performance. The majority remanded for a new trial.


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