Court opinions

7th Circuit: ‘Ransom demand’ requires third-party involvement

May 8, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In order to enhance a criminal sentence on the basis of a ransom demand, that demand must be conveyed to a third-party, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held Wednesday.
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National fraternity not entitled to summary judgment in wrongful death case

May 8, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The national organization of a Wabash College fraternity where a freshman pledge died after a night of heavy drinking is not entitled to summary judgment on the student’s parents’ claims arising from his wrongful death, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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7th Circuit reaffirms drug conviction over claims of ineffective counsel

May 7, 2013
Dave Stafford
A man convicted of federal drug charges failed to convince a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that his conviction should be vacated due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The court affirmed a conviction from the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.
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Entering a guilty plea is not a mitigating factor, COA rules

May 7, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
Although a Shelby County man successfully argued that signing an “Advisement of Rights and Waiver” document did not bar him from appealing his sentence, he failed to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court abused its discretion when sentencing him.
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Court erred in barring expert witness in decade-old software suit

May 7, 2013
Dave Stafford
A trial court erred when it excluded the expert testimony of a witness who sought to address damages for a software company whose former employees allegedly violated non-compete clauses.
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COA affirms mom’s termination of rights despite ‘clean screen’ given to judge

May 7, 2013
Dave Stafford
An Indianapolis mother with a history of drug abuse and domestic violence failed to persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse the termination of her parental rights, even though she introduced herself to the presiding judge after oral arguments and had a student deliver to the judge evidence of a clean drug screen taken a day earlier.
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Mobile home park's occupancy rate not enough to reduce property assessment

May 6, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A low occupancy rate alone did not provide the owner of a mobile home community with the evidence it needed to get its property assessment reduced.
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Tax Court denies excess levy sought by IndyGo

May 6, 2013
Dave Stafford
Indianapolis’ public transit system lost a bid in the Indiana Tax Court to recover a budget shortfall that the Department of Local Government Finance ruled did not exist.
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Store owner’s ‘Spice law’ prosecution may proceed, COA rules

May 6, 2013
Dave Stafford
The state may press criminal charges under the state’s synthetic drug law against a Hamilton County defendant who unsuccessfully argued to the Indiana Court of Appeals that the law was vague and represents an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the Board of Pharmacy.
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Justices will visit Lake County for arguments in drug case

May 3, 2013
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court travels to Merrillville High School May 9 for oral arguments dealing with the admittance of drug evidence after a vehicle search.
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Clothing labels and security tags not considered hearsay evidence

May 2, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that clothing from the store H & M that bore the company name and security tags attached to the clothing could be admitted at a woman’s trial for theft from the store on Black Friday.
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COA: Successive Prosecution Statute not applicable to theft case

May 2, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Howard Superior judge properly refused to dismiss theft charges against a man because, despite the defendant’s arguments to the contrary, the Howard County charges were not previously prosecuted in Miami County.
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Justices order new molestation trial after nurse’s statements admitted improperly

May 2, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Ruling that statements two 6-year-olds made regarding alleged molestation to a nurse should not have been admitted under the hearsay exception in Ind. Rule of Evidence 803(4), the Indiana Supreme Court reversed two child molesting convictions and ordered a new trial.
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State must seek EPA approval before reclassifying ethanol plants

April 30, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Even though the Environmental Protection Agency changed a rule to exclude ethanol plants from the category of chemical process plants which would affect emissions permitting, Indiana had to seek approval from the federal agency before it could reclassify the ethanol production facilities.
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Tax court rules that evidence, not conclusory statements, needed to make prima facie case

April 30, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A doubled property value will stand because the property owner did not offer any market-based evidence when challenging the new assessed value, the Indiana Tax Court has ruled.
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Evidence does not support CHINS finding

April 30, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s determination that an infant is a child in need of services after finding the parents have improved their living situation that led to their three other children being removed. 
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Judges affirm dismissal of city’s counterclaim without prejudice

April 30, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday that a dismissal based on the failure to provide an appraisal with an offer to purchase property for road work improvements was not an adjudication on the merits, allowing a city’s counterclaim for appropriation of the property to be dismissed without prejudice.
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Right to Farm Act bars CAFO nuisance claim, appeals court rules

April 30, 2013
Dave Stafford
A Gibson County farmer may not bring a nuisance claim against a neighboring dairy that dramatically expanded its operations to what he called a “factory-like ‘mega-farm,’” the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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Suspended attorney stripped of quiet title to foreclosed home he repaired

April 30, 2013
Dave Stafford
A suspended Gary attorney who was awarded a quiet title to an abandoned, foreclosed property after he entered a house without authorization and began to maintain it was stripped of the title Tuesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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COA: No error in denying reckless homicide instruction

April 30, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The evidence presented at trial did not support a defendant’s request to instruct the jury on reckless homicide as a lesser offense of murder, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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Lawyers’ divorce battle divides COA on joint custody ruling

April 30, 2013
Dave Stafford
A lengthy divorce proceeding involving two Fort Wayne attorneys that raised numerous issues on appeal was mostly affirmed Tuesday, but a dissenting judge cautioned that joint custody was not in the interest of the of the feuding parents’ daughter.
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Law firm not entitled to summary judgment on complaint seeking payment

April 30, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Finding that there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether an employee was acting on his own behalf or on behalf of his company when he sought a law firm’s services, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered more proceedings on the firm’s complaint for payment.
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Summary judgments on federal preemption are reversible error

April 30, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
The Indiana Court of Appeals has found an exterminator and the insecticide maker should not have been granted summary judgments on the issue of federal preemption.
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Vincennes did not breach contract with men’s basketball coach

April 30, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Tuesday that summary judgment should have been granted in favor of Vincennes University on a former basketball coach’s lawsuit alleging breach of contract after the university did not renew his contract for the following year.
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SCOTUS declines church property dispute case

April 29, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Supreme Court of the United States will not take a case involving a dispute between churches over property.
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