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High court grants 2 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer to two cases Jan. 29, one involving statements given to police and the other whether a man's trial counsel was ineffective.

In Thomas Williams and Sanford Kelsey v. Kelly Eugene Tharp, and Papa John's U.S.A. Inc., No. 29A02-0707-CV-625, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of the pizza chain and its employee, Kelly Tharp, finding genuine issues of fact as to whether Tharp's statement to police was protected by privilege. Tharp told a passerby and other workers at Papa John's that Sanford Kelsey had a gun when he and Thomas Williams picked up a pizza. Tharp gave police the license plate number and description of Kelsey's car. Police didn't find a gun on the men.

As a result of the question of whether Tharp's statement was protected by privilege, summary judgment on the false imprisonment count was improperly premised on the qualified privilege.

Because of other issues of fact on the intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, and punitive damages claims, granting summary judgment in favor of the pizza chain and Tharp was an error. The appellate court remanded the case for trial.

In James H. Helton, Jr. v. State of Indiana, No. 20A04-0710-PC-589, the appellate court reversed the denial of James Helton's petition for post-conviction relief, ruling his trial counsel was ineffective as a matter of law because he didn't file a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence obtained at Helton's home pursuant to a search warrant. The Court of Appeals found his trial counsel misunderstood the law applicable to Helton's defense, so he couldn't have given his client competent advice on whether to plead guilty. Helton pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and was sentenced to 45-years in prison.

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