Court opinions

Appeals panel: Trust’s real property bequeath by later writing invalid

July 31, 2014
Dave Stafford
A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a mother’s specific gift of real property incorporated into trust documents was an invalid method of willing it to heirs.
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Absence of a plan foils development proposal

July 31, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A plan commission did not overstep its authority when it turned down a proposal to build a 300-unit apartment complex, in part, because the developer did not submit a preliminary plan for the project.
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Asset forfeiture dispute divides appeals panel

July 31, 2014
Dave Stafford
An order transferring to the federal government money seized from a criminal defendant was deemed proper by the Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday, though a dissenting judge said the defendant didn’t even know the order had been issued until nearly two years later.
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7th Circuit remands denial of request for crack cocaine sentence reduction

July 31, 2014
Dave Stafford
A man sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his role as a Gary gang member who sold large quantities of crack cocaine will have a new shot at a sentence modification, as will the judge who wrote that the defendant may have been linked to several gang-related murders.
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COA tosses in absentia conviction of Army private

July 31, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A 20-year-old U.S. Army private had his conviction for underage drinking overturned because Hendricks Superior Court denied his motion for a continuance and held the trial while he was deployed in Afghanistan.
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Insurance dispute divides Court of Appeals

July 30, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A split Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s finding that a landlord was not covered by the tenant’s insurance policy.
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Order to demolish home reversed by Court of Appeals

July 30, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A couple whose lakeside house was built at a different elevation than specified in the site development plan will not be able to call the wrecking crew yet.
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Requiring deaf mom to sign doesn’t violate due process

July 30, 2014
Dave Stafford
A mother whose parental rights were terminated was not denied due process when a judge who couldn’t understand her spoken testimony required her to sign to an interpreter who then spoke her responses aloud.
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Court affirms judgment for NIPSCO in easement dispute

July 30, 2014
Dave Stafford
A trial court was correct in awarding a northern Indiana utility company $245,858 for the cost of reconstructing power lines on a new easement after prior owners had mined sand on the prior easement, making servicing poles difficult.
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Court affirms denial of post-conviction relief

July 30, 2014
Dave Stafford
An Elkhart County man twice convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison on drug convictions was not improperly denied post-conviction relief, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
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Denial of summary judgment affirmed in wrongful death case

July 30, 2014
Dave Stafford
A doctor and a South Bend healthcare facility must stand trial on a wrongful death claim, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday, affirming a trial court’s denial of summary judgment.
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Deputy’s ‘playful’ groin shot not cause for termination, COA affirms

July 30, 2014
Dave Stafford
A longtime Bartholomew County merit deputy disciplined after he “playfully shot a fellow officer in the groin with non-lethal training ammunition” was not fired for cause, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in affirming an administrative law judge’s determination the deputy was entitled to unemployment benefits.
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Police questioning gets conviction booted a second time

July 29, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
The child molesting conviction of a Lafayette man has again been overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals because of problems with statements he made to police.
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Court allows education board lawsuit to proceed

July 29, 2014
 Associated Press
A Marion County judge has cleared the way for a lawsuit to proceed against members of the State Board of Education that alleges public access violations.
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Warrantless search based on smell does not violated 4th Amendment

July 28, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
Despite the absence of danger to the public, the strong odor of raw marijuana provided the probable cause a police officer needed to conduct a warrantless search.
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COA rules grandparent visitation order prejudiced father

July 28, 2014
Dave Stafford
A father who asked the trial court for a continuance to hire a lawyer after he realized his child’s grandparents had hired an attorney was prejudiced when the request was denied, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
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Prisoner wins right to recruit counsel in federal civil suit

July 28, 2014
Dave Stafford
A prisoner was improperly denied counsel to help with discovery in his federal lawsuit that claimed a medical provider was deliberately indifferent to glaucoma that ultimately required removal of part of his eye.
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7th Circuit rejects prisoner’s ineffective assistance appeal

July 28, 2014
Dave Stafford
A man convicted of attempted murder failed to convince a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that he suffered sufficient prejudice to warrant relief from a 90-year sentence imposed after a brutal crime.
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7th Circuit affirms dismissal of Indianapolis wrongful arrest suit

July 28, 2014
Dave Stafford
A plaintiff who judges say took a “kitchen sink” approach to litigation over an alleged wrongful arrest failed to convince the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that a federal judge in Indianapolis improperly dismissed most of her complaint.
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Court rules stun gun is deadly weapon under battery statute

July 28, 2014
Dave Stafford
The battery with a deadly weapon conviction of a man who attacked a resident manager at a Noblesville trailer park with a metal pipe and a stun gun was affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals Monday.
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Non life-threatening injury gets aggravated battery conviction reversed

July 28, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A defendant who shot at a car with a semiautomatic rifle, causing a bullet to graze the driver, did not commit Class B felony aggravated battery because the injury inflicted upon the victim did not create a substantial risk of death.
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Employee's auto accident on way home from business meeting not company's fault

July 25, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A company whose employee hit and killed another motorist after having dinner and drinks with a client is not liable because the employee was “going and coming” from work when the tragedy occurred, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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COA reverses ruling against Carmel in building dispute

July 25, 2014
Dave Stafford
A Carmel couple who successfully sued the city that at first permitted construction of an accessory building that neighbors later complained was taller than zoning codes allowed lost Friday at the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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Additional public defender fees without hearing affirmed

July 25, 2014
A man who appealed a court order that he pay fees in excess of the statutory public defender fee capped at $100 lost his appeal, though one judge said the trial court must hold a hearing on the defendant’s ability to pay.
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Woman’s burglary conspiracy conviction affirmed

July 25, 2014
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Court of Appeals Friday affirmed the conviction of a correctional officer who played a role in arranging the burglary of a safe from a friend’s home.
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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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