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Justices accept 2 cases, decline feticide case

October 17, 2011

The Indiana Supreme Court has taken two cases and declined to accept more than two dozen petitions seeking transfer.

During its private conference on Oct. 13, the state’s justices granted transfer petitions in the cases of Reginald N. Person Jr. v. Carol A. Shipley, No. 20S03-1110-CT-609, and John Witt, et al. v. Jay Petroleum, Nos. 38S02-1110-CV-608.

In Person, the Court of Appeals in May reversed a civil jury verdict in favor of Shipley and remanded for future proceedings. The case involved a 2004 Elkhart County accident. Person, the driver of an 18-wheeler semi tractor, sued Shipley, the driver of a sedan, after Shipley fell asleep at the wheel and her smaller car rear-ended his truck and resulted in his injuries. The jury found in favor of Shipley and awarded no damages, and the 2010 trial led to appellate issues about what expert witness testimony should be allowed. The appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting the prejudicial expert testimony.

In Witt, the courts are analyzing a case involving underground storage tanks that were located on a former gas station lot in Portland, Ind., and led to environmental concerns and litigation. The appellate court found that the trial court erred when it held the appellants in contempt of court, both because a temporary restraining order was improvidently granted and because the appellants’ conduct during a June 2008 hearing didn’t constitute a willful violation of the terms of the order.

The justices denied the remaining 28 cases, including the case of Brian Kendrick v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-1003-CR-300, which involves the man who shot a pregnant teller during a bank robbery in Indianapolis in 2008. That shooting led to the death of her twins, one being stillborn. The appellate court earlier this year vacated Kendrick’s two felony feticide convictions because of double jeopardy violations. The judges remanded for resentencing, noting the trial court can now consider Katherine Shuffield’s pregnancy and termination of it in crafting Kendrick’s sentence for attempted murder, as long as the aggregate sentence is not more than 53 years. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Steven David voted to grant transfer, but the three other justices denied the request.

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