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Opinions Nov. 30, 2012

November 30, 2012
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Indiana Supreme Court
State of Indiana Ex Rel., Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission v. Derek A. Farmer
94S00-1103-MS-165
Attorney discipline. Rejected petition to enjoin unauthorized practice of law, holding that the Disciplinary Commission failed to prove that Farmer had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, and failed to convince the court that Farmer could not have reasonably expected to be authorized for temporary admission due to a pending disciplinary proceeding.

Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Adoption of Minor Children: C.B.M. and C.R.M.: C.A.B. v. J.D.M. and K.L.M.
37A03-1204-AD-149
Adoption. Reverses trial court’s denial of birth mother’s petition to set aside the adoption decree and remands for further proceedings, finding that the state’s consent to the adoption of C.B.M. and C.R.M. was arbitrary and capricious and in derogation of the birth mother’s procedural due process right to a meaningful appeal of the termination order, which was overturned prior to the grant of the adoption decree.

Peabody Energy Corp., Peabody Coal Co., LLC, and Black Beauty Coal Co. v. Richard F. Roark and Beelman Truck Co., and North American Capacity Ins. Co.
14A01-1112-CT-555
Civil Tort. Affirms its opinion in all regards to reverse a trial court’s grant of summary judgment to North American Capacity Insurance Co. In its petition for a rehearing, NAC argued the opinion did not explain if it had a duty to indemnify or only a duty to defend. The COA rejected the argument on the grounds it was not raised on appeal.  

Steven Hook, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A03-1204-CR-192
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony battery with a deadly weapon.

Erich Wilhelmi v. State of Indiana (NFP)
43A05-1204-CR-214
Criminal. Affirms conviction and sentence for three years in prison with two executed for a conviction of Class D felony failure to return to the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury.

In Re: 2009 Marion County Tax Sale Parcel No. 1019054; Darryl W. Finkton, Sr. v. Auditor of Marion County, Treasurer of Marion County, and Indy-East Asset Development Corp. (NFP)
49A02-1201-MI-41
Miscellaneous/tax sale. Affirms reissuance of tax deed to auditor.

Danny G. Young v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A05-1205-CR-229
Criminal. Affirms concurrent sentence of six years for a conviction of Class C felony forgery and two years each for convictions of Class D felony counts of receiving stolen property and fraud.

Jose Carlos Arce v. State of Indiana (NFP)
88A05-1206-PC-324
Post-conviction relief. Affirms in part, reverses in part and remands to the trial court for a hearing on Arce’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Siraj Khaja Ahmed v. Asma Saman Ahmed (NFP)
64A03-1204-DR-175
Domestic relations/divorce. Affirms trial court denial of Siraj’s motion to correct error and its grant of Asma’s motion to dismiss.  
 
Alberto R. Melendez Cruz v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A05-1203-CR-150
Criminal. Affirms conviction of murder.
 

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  1. 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.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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