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Opinions Aug. 7, 2013

August 7, 2013
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Indiana Court of Appeals
Westminster Presbyterian Church of Muncie, an Indiana Non-Profit Corporation v. Yonghong Cheng and Hongjun Niu, Husband and Wife, as parents of Matthew Cheng, deceased
18A02-1210-CT-791
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Westminster in regard to an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim. Reverses denial of summary judgment on wrongful death and invasion-of-privacy claims and remands with instructions to grant summary judgment in favor of Westminster. Finds although the church recommended the babysitter, in whose care Matthew Cheng died, it did not owe a duty to the Cheng family as a matter of law. Also, rules the church’s publicizing the death did not invade on the Chengs’ privacy because the church did not reap any commercial value from doing so.

Centurion Federal Credit Union v. Michael Trible (NFP)
82A01-1210-PL-482
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court award of damages to Trible. Finds the trial court did not err in its holdings or in computing damages and that Trible did not fail to mitigate damages.  

Dominique L. White v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A03-1212-CR-541
Criminal. Affirms sentence of 365 days after White pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated as a Class A misdemeanor.  

Dominique L. White v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A05-1212-CR-651
Criminal. Affirms aggregate sentence of four years after White pleaded guilty to four counts of neglect of a dependent, each as a Class D felony; one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, as a Class D felony; and one count of driving while suspended, as a Class A misdemeanor.  

Dale R. Davidson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A01-1302-CR-56
Criminal. Remands for clarification of the sentence imposed on Davidson. Agrees with the state that it is not possible to ascertain what sentence was imposed upon Davidson for his convictions of residential entry, a Class D felony; and three Class A misdemeanors of battery, invasion of privacy and interference with reporting of a crime.

In the Matter of the Involuntary Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of J.M., Minor child, and J.M. and Z.W. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
20A03-1301-JT-19
Juvenile. Affirms the involuntary termination of the parental rights of J.M. (mother) and Z.W. (father).

Carlos Ramos v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A02-1211-CR-949
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor. Finds the evidence presented was sufficient to establish that Ramos understood his right to a trial by jury but preferred to proceed with a bench trial.  

John Jorman, Jr., v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A04-1203-PC-163
Post conviction. Affirms denial of Jorman’s petition for post-conviction relief.

Daniel Aguilar, III v. State of Indiana (NFP)

64A05-1212-CR-665
Criminal. Affirms conviction of two counts of Class C felony child molesting. However, finds the trial court did not specify in the record the conditions of Aguilar’s probation, remands this case to the trial court so that it can specify in the record the terms of his probation.

Cody Steele v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A05-1301-CR-14
Criminal. Affirms two-year sentence for escape, as a Class D felony, which was enhanced by one and one-half years due to Steele’s status as a habitual offender.

Shirley Jones v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A05-1301-CR-4
Criminal. Affirms conviction of battery as a Class A misdemeanor. Concludes that the incredible dubiosity rule is inapplicable and that Jones’s conviction is supported by sufficient evidence.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court issued no opinions prior to IL deadline. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued no Indiana decisions prior to IL deadline.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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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  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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