Court opinions

COA affirms second imposition of habitual-offender enhancement

July 22, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Tippecanoe County man whose sentence enhancement for being a habitual offender was overturned by the Indiana Supreme Court – but later re-imposed after a retrial – was unable to convince the Indiana Court of Appeals that his retrial was barred by res judicata.
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Search of man, car that led to drug arrest constitutional, COA rules

July 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Thursday that the search of the man who supplied cocaine to buyers as well as the search of his car did not violate state and federal constitutions.
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Inmate loses negligence suit on appeal

July 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the Adams County sheriff, finding an inmate was unable to make a prima facie case for negligence. The inmate sued after contracting a methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus – or MRSA – infection after visiting the hospital.
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COA rules company not entitled to surplus funds under agreement

July 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
An Owen Circuit judge erred by granting a Colorado company’s petition to claim surplus funds from the tax sale of property belonging to Ora and Leafie Chambers, the Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The couple signed an agreement that transferred their right of the surplus funds from the sale of their property to Asset Recovery Inc.
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COA finds no error in Class A felony attempted robbery conviction

July 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After determining it had jurisdiction over a defendant’s appeal, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction of Class A felony attempted robbery instead of a lesser-included offense.
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Justices: Order giving grandmother visitation rights is void

July 18, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Because a grandmother did not have standing under the terms of Indiana’s Grandparent Visitation Statute to pursue visitation, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that an original order granting visitation is void. The woman wanted to see her two grandchildren whose mother was murdered by the grandmother’s son.
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Question remains as to whether son is ‘child’ under Wrongful Death Statute

July 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of the defendants on two parents’ claims under the Child Wrongful Death Statute regarding their 21-year-old son who died in a car accident. The appellate court found a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the informal apprenticeship the son was participating in at the time of his death would be considered a vocational program under the CWDS.
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Prisoner adequately stated First Amendment claim against DOC employees

July 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals quickly affirmed the dismissal of most of a prisoner’s claims regarding violations under Indiana statute or the state and federal constitutions, but found her First Amendment retaliation claims against several Department of Correction employees should not have been dismissed by the trial court.
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COA affirms dissolution of corporation embroiled in family dispute

July 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A company owned by two brothers – one disabled and one terminally ill – was properly dissolved by the trial court over the disabled brother’s objections, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.
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Attorney disbarred for writing book about client

July 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court has ordered a Carmel attorney disbarred after finding he wrote a book revealing sensitive information about a former client for his monetary gain.
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Justices: Voluntary associations must comply with Wage Payment Statute

July 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court Tuesday ordered more proceedings on a fired union employee’s complaint seeking payment for unused vacation time. The justices held that she is entitled to accrue vacation pay unless there was an arrangement or policy to the contrary, which is in dispute in this case.
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7th Circuit won’t make Indiana rip up section of I-69

July 16, 2013
Dave Stafford
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected environmental activists’ arguments that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately address impact on wetlands when it issued permits for a recently completed section of Interstate 69 in southern Indiana.
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Conviction splits COA in determining actions of a ‘reasonable person’

July 16, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
In affirming the conviction of a man who violated a no-contact order, the Indiana Court of Appeals split over what a “reasonable person” would have done in similar circumstances.
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Appeals court cites apparent authority to affirm auction sale

July 16, 2013
Dave Stafford
The sale of Noble County lake and farm property at auction is valid even though some siblings in a family limited liability corporation objected because reserve prices hadn’t been met, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in affirming the trial court.
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COA finds argument that documents were ambiguous is really ‘a failure to read’

July 16, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A real estate investor who argued that he should not be held personally liable because the loan documents were ambiguous was reminded by the Indiana Court of Appeals that “a failure to read does not equate with an ambiguity….” 
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Rear-ended motorist found 70 percent liable wins on appeal

July 16, 2013
Dave Stafford
A jury that found a Kokomo motorist 70 percent at fault when his vehicle sitting at an intersection was rear-ended misread the law, as did a judge who instructed jurors, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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Criminal convictions and financial penalties do not violate double jeopardy

July 15, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A business owner will have to serve his sentence after the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his argument that his criminal convictions and financial penalties imposed for failing to pay taxes violated double jeopardy principles.
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7th Circuit won’t excuse IMPD officer from wrongful arrest, excessive force suit

July 12, 2013
Dave Stafford
A man’s federal lawsuit against two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers and the city will go forward after a federal judge rejected one officer’s interlocutory appeal.
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7th Circuit affirms drug convictions, sentence

July 11, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an Indiana man’s convictions and 360-month sentence for drug-related offenses, rejecting his claims that his right to a speedy trial was violated and the starting time of his offenses was incorrectly determined by the District Court.
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Man accused of violating city ordinances entitled to jury trial

July 11, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Because the underlying substantive claims brought against an Indianapolis man regarding his treatment of his dog are quasi-criminal, he is entitled to a jury trial under the Indiana Constitution, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.
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COA: Surrogate can not petition to disestablish maternity

July 11, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A married woman who acted as a surrogate for another couple cannot petition to disestablish her maternity because it would cause the child to be “declared a child without a mother,” the Indiana Court of Appeals determined on interlocutory appeal.
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COA affirms $1,380 restitution order for missing CDs, coins

July 11, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday that a trial court did not err in letting the state present evidence of a victim’s loss for the first time at a restitution hearing. It affirmed an order that Kenneth Smith pay $1,380 to William Kirkham for missing CDs and coins.
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Server’s electronic tip alteration is forgery, COA rules

July 11, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Logan’s Roadhouse server who used a computer to alter the amount of tip a customer left for her on a credit card can be convicted of forgery, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.
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Man loses challenge to Internet access restrictions

July 9, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A convicted sex offender’s probation condition restricting his access to certain websites and programs that are frequented by children does not violate the man’s First Amendment rights, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
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7th Circuit reverses sanctions against Plews Shadley, other firms in False Claims Act case

July 9, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After finding that a federal court in Indianapolis erred in dismissing a former ITT Educational Services Inc. employee’s False Claims Act lawsuit, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the nearly $350,000 in sanctions imposed against three law firms representing the woman.
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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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