Court opinions

Gender change does not void Indiana marriage

December 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana law does not automatically void a marriage if one of the parties later is legally recognized as the same gender as the spouse, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
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Admission of return of service did not violate Confrontation Clause

December 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In a matter of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals Friday concluded that a return of service on a protective order is not testimonial, so its admission at trial did not violate a defendant’s rights under the Confrontation Clause.
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Judges affirm criminal reckless conviction

December 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A man who turned his car sharply enough to force his girlfriend out of the car and onto the road had his conviction of Class A misdemeanor criminal recklessness affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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Judges split on whether jury instruction erroneous

December 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a man who shot at police when they attempted to serve a search warrant. The judges were, however, divided as to whether the trial court erred in giving jury instructions on the presumption of innocence.
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COA: Jury adequately instructed on presumption of innocence

December 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s argument that his child molestation conviction should be reversed because the trial court did not tender his jury instruction on the presumption of innocence. The judges found the court’s instruction adequately instructed the jury.
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Man’s molestation post-conviction bid fails on appeal

December 19, 2013
Dave Stafford
A Morgan County man failed to convince a Court of Appeals panel that ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct should entitle him to relief from a child molestation conviction.
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Appeals court slashes contamination award from $154,632 to $7,383

December 19, 2013
Dave Stafford
Court-ordered environmental damages caused by PCB contamination at a Churubusco industrial site were reduced from a total of $154,632 to $7,383 on Thursday by a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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Wife barred from inheritance because of adulterous relationship

December 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that a woman’s relationship outside of her marriage prevents her from inheriting from her deceased husband’s estate.
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Accomplice’s murder conviction upheld

December 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A woman who threatened that her baby’s father and his brother would kill the man who punched her several times had her conviction of murder upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals. She sat in a car while with the boyfriend and his brother killed the man.
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Justices: Lab tech does not need to testify

December 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday concluded that a laboratory technician involved in the chain of custody of DNA evidence is not required to testify at trial in order to satisfy the demands of a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right of confrontation.
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Life sentence upheld for man who killed neighbor

December 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court rejected a man’s claims that certain photos of a murder victim should not have been admitted at his trial. The justices upheld Tyrice Halliburton’s life without parole sentence for the murder of Sheena Kiska.
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Man’s second federal child-porn conviction sticks, 7th Circuit rules

December 19, 2013
Dave Stafford
A man whose first federal child pornography conviction was reversed on appeal struck out in his second appearance before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals after he was reconvicted of the same 16 counts.
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Question over who should have mown grass prevents summary judgment

December 18, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment to a homeowner after a man slipped and fell on her property was overturned when the Indiana Court of Appeals found sufficient dispute over material facts.
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COA: County officials not bound to collective bargaining agreement

December 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
An issue of first impression arose in a lawsuit in which a local union argued that the Madison County assessor and recorder had to follow the terms of a collective bargaining agreement that the county had entered into with UAW.
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State not allowed to intervene in Weinberger case

December 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Finding the law does not allow the state to become a party to otherwise private litigation at any stage of the proceedings, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed its prior order granting the state’s motion to intervene in a settlement reached between former doctor Mark Weinberger and the estate of a patient.
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Judges clarify late-filed amendment required reversal, not remand

December 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
On a petition for rehearing, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed its decision to reverse a habitual offender enhancement because the amendment to the habitual offender allegation was made after the trial started and prejudiced the defendant’s rights.
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8-year sentence upheld for teen who killed friend while street racing

December 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Madison County man who crashed his car while street racing, which killed one passenger and injured two others, could not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that the trial court erred in declining to give a lesser-included instruction of reckless driving at his trial for reckless homicide.
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Fees against IHSAA for unreasonable litigation upheld

December 17, 2013
Dave Stafford
The Indiana High School Athletic Association should pay for its insistence on enforcing rules that courts repeatedly said were arbitrary and capricious, an appeals panel ruled Tuesday.
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Injured worker has to prove company is secondarily liable in workers' comp claim

December 17, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
The Indiana Court of Appeals split in deciding a workers’ compensation claim concerning who had the burden to prove whether the true value of work exceeded $1,000 and, therefore, triggered secondary liability.
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Reversal: Insurer had duty to provide dental office full coverage

December 17, 2013
Dave Stafford
An insurer that for decades wrote policies for a dental office had a special duty to advise the office about coverage and ensure the office was fully covered, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in reversing summary judgment in favor of the insurer.
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Supreme Court revives Rockport plant proposal

December 17, 2013
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Supreme Court revived a controversial state-backed deal that would facilitate construction of a $2.7 billion coal-using synthetic natural gas plant in Rockport. The decision likely sets up another round of state regulatory review if developers choose to move forward.
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Court erred, twice rejected settlement in covenant case

December 16, 2013
Dave Stafford
A trial court erred in denying a homeowners association’s request for an injunction against a resident who parked a trailer on her lot. The court then twice rejected joint settlement requests, according to a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals.
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Clenched fist and aggressive behavior merit resisting law enforcement conviction

December 13, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
The Indiana Supreme Court acknowledged that precedent does not provide a clear definition of “resisting arrest,” but still the court knew it when it saw it in a case where a man was subdued with a Taser after ignoring a police officer’s order to get down on the ground. 
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Despite objections, molester can’t appeal prior physical abuse testimony

December 13, 2013
Dave Stafford
Objections made to a line of questioning at a man’s child molestation trial that he had previously assaulted the victim and the victim’s mother didn’t properly preserve the issue, a Court of Appeals panel ruled Friday in affirming his conviction.
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Justices decline to apply dollar for dollar credit for Social Security retirement benefits

December 12, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday declined to revisit previous caselaw regarding crediting Social Security Retirement benefits to a noncustodial parent’s child support obligation. The justices affirmed the trial court’s decision to include the benefits in the custodial parent’s weekly adjusted income.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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