Court opinions

COA reaffirms separate convictions for check theft not warranted

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s petition for rehearing in a case in which the defendant stole checks from a man’s mailbox, but affirmed its original decision that the taking of the checks and what the defendant did with them constituted a single continuing act of theft.
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Judge: School corp.’s inattentiveness doesn’t support benefits reversal

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals was split Wednesday over whether a notice sent regarding a hearing on unemployment benefits required reversing the grant of benefits because the employer found the notice confusing.
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US Supreme Court: DOMA unconstitutional; finds lack of standing to appeal in Perry

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday in a 5-4 decision that is confined to only those in lawful marriages. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority decision, writing the Act is a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
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Justices slam agreement to no parenting time, no child support

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court had harsh words Tuesday for parents and attorneys who enter into agreements that stipulate giving up parenting time in lieu of paying child support. There must be extraordinary circumstances to justify denying parenting time.
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SCOTUS strikes portion of Voting Rights Act; will hand down term’s final decisions Wednesday

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Supreme Court of the United States held Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional Tuesday, ruling that its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to pre-clearance. The case stems from Shelby County in Alabama asking for a declaratory judgment that sections 4(b) and 5 are facially unconstitutional and a permanent injunction against their enforcement.
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Resisting law enforcement conviction reduced due to double jeopardy violation

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A post-conviction court “clearly erred” when it found a man’s trial attorney did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. The judges ordered the court to reduce Timmy Zieman’s Class C felony resisting law enforcement conviction to a Class D felony because of a violation of double jeopardy principles.
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Refusal to remove biased board member ends potential administrative remedies

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After finding that the exhaustion of administrative remedies was excused for a company seeking to operate a stone quarry because a drainage board member was biased against the project, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the trial court acquired subject matter jurisdiction and properly denied the board member’s motion to dismiss.
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Supreme Court kicks ‘buyer beware’ vs. disclosure case back to trial court

June 25, 2013
Dave Stafford
A Lake County dispute over whether a buyer or seller is responsible for a few thousand dollars worth of home defects is headed back to the trial court after a divided Indiana Supreme Court ordered a legal do-over.
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Justices reverse rule of law going back to Civil War era

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After requiring for nearly 150 years that a defendant charged with murder or treason be required to prove he or she is entitled to bail, a divided Indiana Supreme Court ruled it now falls upon the state to show that “the proof is evident or the presumption strong” that the defendant is guilty and not entitled to bail.
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Evidence supports felony inmate fraud conviction

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Finding that a defendant obtained a future interest in bail money as well as his release from prison – which constitute property under Indiana law – the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Elnesto Ray Valle’s Class C felony inmate fraud conviction. Valle convinced a stranger to pay his bail.
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Justices: Officer had reasonable suspicion window tint violated law

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress cocaine found on him after his car was stopped by police on the belief the car’s window tint did not comply with Indiana statute. The justices found the officer had reasonable suspicion that the tint was in violation of the Window Tint Statute.
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Sex Offender Registration Act not ex post facto as applied to Perry County man

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a petition to remove a convicted child molester from the sex offender registry, finding the Sex Offender Registration Act is non-punitive as applied to him.
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SCOTUS sends affirmative-action case back to 5th Circuit

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A lawsuit claiming that a Texas university's consideration of race in its admissions practices violates the Equal Protection Clause has been sent back by the Supreme Court of the United States to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In its ruling on the suit filed by a Caucasian woman denied admission in 2008, the justices did not strike down the use of affirmative action by the university.
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COA affirms trial court dismissal of judicial review but differs on reasoning

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
An Allen Superior judge’s determination that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear a zoning issue, thus requiring dismissal, was erroneous, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But the judges affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case because of a lack of supporting materials and a late request for a filing deadline extension.
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Justices: Excluding expert witness was error by trial court

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Four Indiana justices Friday held that a Montgomery Superior judge erred when he struck the plaintiff’s expert witness in a medical malpractice lawsuit and dismissed the suit under Indiana Trial Rules 37(B) and 41(E).
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SCOTUS rules in favor of Ball State in hostile work environment suit

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that a woman failed to prove she was subject to a hostile work environment at Ball State University.
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Appeals court upholds woman’s sentence for treatment of cats

June 21, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Fort Wayne woman who kept more than 100 cats between two properties in deplorable conditions had her sentence for multiple counts of criminal mischief and animal cruelty upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The judges declined to revise her sentence because it was appropriate given her character and the nature of the offense.
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Injured man who sued estate can only recover insurance policy limits

June 21, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A man who was injured in an auto accident with a woman who died the following year cannot recover any funds from her estate, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But the trial court didn’t err in denying the estate’s motion to amend the jury award, because it is a valid judgment despite that the man can only recover funds available under the policy limits of the woman’s insurance policy.
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Summary judgment affirmed for casino in collapsing chair suit

June 21, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The manufacturer of a chair that came down on a patron’s leg as she sat on it appealed the denial of its summary judgment on the woman’s complaint, arguing the northern Indiana casino shouldn’t have been granted summary judgment. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Friday, but ordered more proceedings on Horseshoe Casino’s third-party complaint against Gasser Chair Co.
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SCOTUS issues 3 decisions; opinions on Ball State case, same-sex marriage to come

June 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Those who hoped to learn how the Supreme Court of the United States will rule on same-sex marriage likely will need to wait until next week. The U.S. justices issued three opinions Thursday, although none were from the highly anticipated cases before them.
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Man’s claims that protective sweep, search are unconstitutional fail

June 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A protective sweep and subsequent search of a house following the issuance of a search warrant were reasonable under the federal and state constitutions, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The defendant argued that the scope of the sweep – which led to the discovery of drugs and paraphernalia – was impermissibly broad.
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COA reverses denial of petition to dismiss protective order

June 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Jackson Superior Court erred in denying a couple’s request to dismiss a protective order the wife had taken out against her husband, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, because the statute contains the word “shall” regarding the court’s actions when one files for a dismissal of the protective order.
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SCOTUS ruling emboldens lawmakers to expand DNA collection

June 19, 2013
Dave Stafford
This time next year, Indiana may join the majority of states that collect DNA samples from people arrested on suspicion of committing felonies, rather than only from those convicted. Lawmakers who’ve been stymied are encouraged by a Supreme Court of the United States decision upholding the practice.
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SCOTUS: isolated, naturally occurring DNA segment can't be patented

June 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A naturally occurring DNA segment is not eligible for a patent simply because it has been isolated, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled June 13. DNA that is not a product of nature may be patent eligible, however.
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Although Miranda rights were violated, physical evidence still admissible

June 18, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
Although a man’s incriminating statements made while sitting in a police car should have been suppressed, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the error was harmless because the physical evidence seized was sufficient to sustain his convictions.
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  2. 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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  4. 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.

  5. 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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