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Judges reduce restitution award stemming from correctional officer attack

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A partial permanent impairment settlement cannot be considered by a trial court when imposing restitution, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday.

In Ruben Gonzalez v. State of Indiana, 52A02-1306-CR-526, Ruben Gonzalez appealed the $41,200 in restitution he was ordered to pay to JWF Specialty Company, the third-party administrator for the state’s workers’ compensation benefits. Gonzalez, while incarcerated at the Miami Correctional Facility, severely beat correctional officer Rodney Gahl with a padlock contained in a sock. The attack caused severe life-threatening injuries, resulting in extensive treatment and therapy and substantial permanent impairments.

Gonzalez was convicted of Class A felony attempted murder and Class B felony aggravated battery. The trial court ordered he pay JWF more than $257,000 in restitution. He only appealed the portion of the restitution order related to the permanent partial impairment settlement paid to Gahl.

The parties agree that JWF can recoup the restitution amounts JWF paid for Gahl’s medical treatment and lost wages, which were incurred prior to the sentencing hearing.

“The medical and lost-wages costs assumed by JWF are specific costs that a trial court shall consider when imposing restitution. The same cannot be said for the PPI settlement,” Judge Ezra Friedlander wrote, citing I.C. 35-50-5-3(a)(2) and (4).

“A PPI payment is compensation for an injured employee’s permanent loss of physical function(s) rather than for an inability to work. Gahl, himself, could not have sought restitution at the criminal proceeding for loss of physical function, as it does not encompass already-incurred lost wages or medical expense. Accordingly, JWF cannot recover the PPI payment via its status as a surrogate victim.”

The judges remand for the trial court to reduce the restitution award by $41,200. They also ordered the trial court to vacate the aggravated battery conviction because of a double jeopardy violation.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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