Court opinions

Judge reduces death sentences to life without parole

August 15, 2011
Michael Hoskins
If he’d had the ability more than three years ago to factor in a jury’s deadlocked view on the death penalty, a southern Indiana judge says he would have imposed life without parole rather than the death penalty for a man convicted of triple murder.
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11th Circuit strikes portion of health-care reform law

August 15, 2011
IL Staff
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled on a challenge to the federal health-care law filed by numerous states, including Indiana, and found the federal mandate that individuals have to purchase health insurance or face a penalty to be unconstitutional.
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Man's convictions upheld despite court's use of inadmissible evidence

August 12, 2011
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals found a trial judge abused his discretion in admitting portions of a defendant’s out-of-court taped police statements, but the appellate panel determined that error was harmless and not reason to reverse the man’s multiple rape and sexual conduct convictions.
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COA: Names in workforce development cases aren't confidential

August 12, 2011
Michael Hoskins
From now on, the Indiana Court of Appeals will publish full names of parties on workforce development review board cases after determining state statute doesn’t require those to be kept confidential in public court records.
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Judge: Students’ off-campus Internet photos protected by First Amendment

August 11, 2011
Michael Hoskins
A federal judge has ruled that a northern Indiana school district shouldn’t have disciplined two high school girls who posted racy online photos of themselves posing with phallic lollipops and simulating sexual acts because the pictures were outside of school and are protected by the First Amendment.
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Appeals court affirms sending employee appeal back to agency

August 11, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of a fired Department of Correction employee’s petition for judicial review, finding that it was clear on the record that an administrative agency’s action was without evidentiary foundation. The appellate court noted the difficulty the judge had in conducting the judicial review due to deficiencies in recording testimony.
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Justices reverse ruling against hospital on spoliation claim

August 10, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
Relying on workers’ compensation cases involving first- and third-party spoliation claims, the Indiana Supreme Court has declined to recognize similar claims regarding medical malpractice suits.
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Judges split over order property owner pay for construction of drainage-ditch arm

August 10, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided in its ruling on whether a man whose land sits higher and isn’t prone to flooding should have to pay for the reconstruction of an arm of a nearby drainage ditch. The dissenting judge wrote that Wednesday’s decision will promote “water wars” between neighbors.
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COA allows for admission of vehicle photo in personal injury action

August 10, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed for the first time the issue of whether a photograph admitted at trial showing little damage to a truck involved in an accident is inadmissible on the grounds that it’s irrelevant to any determination of bodily injury.
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Judges won’t revisit associational standing issue on same case

August 9, 2011
Michael Hoskins
Finding it had already ruled on an associational standing question six years ago in the same case, the Indiana Court of Appeals has denied an electric utility's attempt to re-litigate that issue based on the law-of-the-case doctrine.
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COA: Suit against sewer district isn’t a public lawsuit

August 9, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Spencer Circuit Court erred in finding a lawsuit filed by property owners challenging the requirement they connect to a new sewer system is a public lawsuit and the property owners must pay $9 million in bond to proceed with the suit, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
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Court rules on duty of care for healthy trees in residential areas

August 9, 2011
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Court of Appeals has reiterated its stance that urban or residential area landowners have a duty to take reasonable precautions regarding their own trees, healthy or otherwise, and make sure they don’t harm a neighbor’s property based on the size and where they are planted.
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Circuit judges order court to take another look at Batson challenge

August 8, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
Based on the record before them, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judges were unable to make an informed decision about the District Court’s decision to deny a defendant’s Batson challenge, so the judges sent the case back to the lower court.
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7th Circuit upholds mail fraud convictions

August 8, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
Although it found the evidence presented in a mail fraud case “thin,” the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals viewed it as enough to send the case involving three Calumet Township Trustee’s Office employees to the jury.
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Lawyer can argue for cost-of-living adjustment for increased fees

August 5, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that an attorney that successfully represented a client in a Social Security disability benefits suit should be allowed to make a request for a cost-of-living adjustment that would exceed the maximum $125 per hour that can be awarded under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
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Judges reverse ruling mechanic's lien has priority over mortgages

August 5, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled there was no reason for a trial judge to disregard the state’s priority statutes regarding liens and mortgages and find that a construction company’s mechanic’s lien has priority over previously recorded mortgages.
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COA applies sports injury conduct rule

August 4, 2011
Michael Hoskins
Less than three months after the Indiana Supreme Court issued a decision about sports injury cases, the state’s intermediate appellate court is now applying the new rule regarding how liability should be determined.
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AG: DCS out-of-state placements shouldn’t be reviewable by courts

August 4, 2011
Michael Hoskins
An Indiana Supreme Court decision upholding three statutes relating to juvenile judges’ authority on out-of-state placement cases created what the state attorney general’s office calls too much confusion, and the justices should revisit the ruling it made a little more than a month ago.
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Judges order hearing on unemployment benefits

August 4, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
A man, whose request for a continuance in a hearing regarding his unemployment benefits was denied by an administrative law judge, is entitled to a hearing on the matter, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
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COA divided on whether 'bully' comments require new trial

August 3, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals split in affirming a man’s drunk-driving conviction, with the dissenting judge finding the prosecutor’s questions to the jury and repeated reference to the defendant as a bully at trial made a fair trial impossible.
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Looking back on rulings

August 3, 2011
Michael Hoskins
Looking in the rearview mirror on judicial precedent is a task that every judge on every court faces.
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Lawmakers may consider sentencing options for children waived to adult courtRestricted Content

August 3, 2011
Michael Hoskins
Within a six-month period, one Indiana county prosecutor faced two situations where he had to make one of the toughest types of decisions – whether a child should be tried in juvenile or adult court based on the brutality of a crime and age of the offender.
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Workers' comp cases question line between employer liability and employee responsibilityRestricted Content

August 3, 2011
Jenny Montgomery
In June, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the finding of a workers’ compensation judge who ruled that a man whose wife died of a pulmonary embolism while working from home was entitled to workers’ compensation survivor benefits. In Renner v. AT&T, No. A-2393-10T3, a doctor admitted that other factors – including obesity – may have been risk factors for developing the fatal blood clot.
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COA cites 'good faith' exception for child pornography search warrant

August 2, 2011
Jenny Montgomery
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence, holding that even though a search warrant was invalid, the evidence it produced is admissible due to a “good faith” exception to the exclusionary rule.
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7th Circuit judge grants prisoner’s request for certificate of appealability

August 1, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
An Indiana prisoner’s request for a certificate of appealability has been granted by a 7th Circuit judge who found the man’s application set forth a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right.
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  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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