Court opinions

Judges disagree over impact of mental illness label at sentencing

July 11, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Wood believed that Michael Dean Overstreet, who was convicted of killing Franklin College student Kelly Eckart in 1997, was prejudiced by his attorneys’ decisions at sentencing regarding which experts should testify about his mental illness.
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7th Circuit upholds conviction over DEA agent withholding evidence

July 6, 2012
Dave Stafford
A man convicted of federal charges of distributing cocaine was not deprived a fair trial after a government agent failed to record or relay exculpatory evidence from a co-defendant, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
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7th Circuit affirms life sentences in prostitution ring

July 6, 2012
Dave Stafford
Two men sentenced to life in prison on an assortment of federal charges related to a prostitution ring involving underage girls that operated in northwest Indiana failed in their appeal before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, but judges asked the trial court to clarify the sentence for a third defendant.
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Drunken driving conviction affirmed; lesser included charge vacated

July 5, 2012
Dave Stafford
A Marion Superior Court conviction in a drunken driving case was affirmed Thursday by the Indiana Court of Appeals, but the court ordered a lesser included charge on which the driver was convicted be merged.
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Appeals court upholds, tweaks division of IRA in divorce

July 5, 2012
Dave Stafford
A husband’s individual retirement account is a divisible asset in a divorce, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, but it ordered the trial court to revise the award to reflect an equal division of both parties’ assets.
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7th Circuit reinstates insurer’s case against shipper

July 5, 2012
Dave Stafford
An insurer’s lawsuit against an Indianapolis-based shipping company involving a loss of more than $1 million has been reinstated by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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Indiana's immigration law reeling

July 4, 2012
Dave Stafford
Attorneys say the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Arizona case likely dooms parts of Indiana's law.
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Supreme Court review focuses on Shepard's legacy

July 4, 2012
Dave Stafford
The Randall Shepard era of Indiana’s Supreme Court is over, but in his last full year on the court, the former chief justice continued a legacy of consensus building and restoring primacy to the state Constitution.
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Mom's contempt judgment affirmed in educational support dispute

July 3, 2012
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed a trial court’s finding that a mother was in contempt for violating a court order on educational support for her college-age daughter and that she pay a recalculated proportion of those costs and the father’s attorney fees.
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Appellate judges affirm previous decision in paternity dispute

July 3, 2012
Dave Stafford

A divided Indiana Court of Appeals on Tuesday reaffirmed its original opinion in In Re: The Matter of the Paternity of S.C.: K.C. (Appellant), and C.C. (Appellee), and B.H. (Appellee-Intervenor), 30A01-1107-JP-322, in which the appellate court affirmed the Hancock Circuit Court’s grant of B.H.’s verified petition for relief from judgment for fraud upon the court.

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Zoeller: Indiana to get $6.3 million in drug-maker settlement

July 3, 2012
Dave Stafford
Indiana will receive more than $6.3 million as part of a national Medicaid fraud settlement with drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline, Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement Monday.
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PNC entitled to summary judgment under res judicata

July 3, 2012
Kelly Lucas
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of the Marion Superior Court that granted summary judgment in favor of the defense in Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., f/k/a Wachovia Commercial Mortgage Inc. v. PNC Bank, N.A. f/k/a National City Bank of Indiana, 49A02-1111-PL-1004.
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Trial in absentia did not violate due process

July 3, 2012
Kelly Lucas
The due process rights of a man charged with two counts of Class C felony non-support of a dependent child were not violated when he was tried in absentia and without trial counsel, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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Legal nullity sends zoning decision back to BZA

July 3, 2012
Kelly Lucas
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a matter brought by the owners of a cottage on Lake Gage in Steuben County be remanded to the Steuben County Board of Zoning Appeals because the BZA’s decision granting the homeowners a development standards variance with a void condition was a legal nullity.
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Supreme Court emancipation, support ruling draws sharp dissent

July 2, 2012
Dave Stafford
A 3-2 Indiana Supreme Court decision in a case involving a child’s emancipation and a father’s contribution toward her education resulted in a tough dissent from two veteran justices.
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Justices divided over man’s conviction of criminal trespass

June 29, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
The state failed to prove an essential element of criminal trespass, according to one Indiana justice, so he dissented from his colleagues’ decision to uphold a man’s conviction stemming from his refusal to leave his bank.

 
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Court upholds judgment in favor of Cedar Lake

June 29, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
A fired employee’s claim that he had a constitutionally protected interest in his job with the Town of Cedar Lake and that he was entitled to due process before being fired failed on appeal.
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Carmel police officer discharged for just cause

June 29, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the finding by an administrative law judge and a review board that a city of Carmel police officer was fired, but not for just cause.
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COA: mentally handicapped parents not immune from termination proceedings

June 29, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals declined to grant a mother’s request to carve out an exception in involuntary termination of parental rights cases for parents who are mentally handicapped. The Tippecanoe County mother claimed her children shouldn’t be removed from her care because of her mental faculties.
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Judges deny bail for man charged with killing 2 children

June 29, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
The Evansville man accused of setting fire to a home he shared with his girlfriend and her two children – which killed the children – and then fleeing will remain in jail awaiting his August trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.
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7th Circuit tosses IU dorm-search lawsuit

June 29, 2012
Dave Stafford
An Indiana University student’s federal lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent his one-year suspension was dismissed Friday by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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US Supreme Court rules on Stolen Valor Act case

June 28, 2012
Jennifer Nelson
While the health care decision was the ruling most people were waiting to hear, the justices also issued decisions in two other cases Thursday. The nation’s highest court found the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional.
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7th Circuit affirms summary judgment for employer in FMLA suit

June 28, 2012
Dave Stafford
An employer was within its rights to terminate an employee who attempted to take off work under the Family and Medical Leave Act but then sought no treatment, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
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High court ruling opens Medicaid escape hatch for states

June 28, 2012
J.K. Wall
While upholding President Barack Obama’s health care law, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday also opened an escape hatch for states that do not want to take on the project of expanding their Medicaid programs.
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Unreliable evidence weighing reduces Elkhart meth dealing conviction

June 28, 2012
Dave Stafford
Elkhart County prosecutors and state witnesses used dubious methods to weigh methamphetamine during a trial, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday. The court reversed a man’s Class A felony conviction and ordered the court to resentence him on a lesser charge.
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  2. 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.

  3. 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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