Court opinions

US Supreme Court strikes down DOMA as unconstitutional

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
On its last day of the 2012 term, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down its highly anticipated decisions involving same-sex marriage. Same-sex couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage received a victory from the court when the majority struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.
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COA reaffirms separate convictions for check theft not warranted

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s petition for rehearing in a case in which the defendant stole checks from a man’s mailbox, but affirmed its original decision that the taking of the checks and what the defendant did with them constituted a single continuing act of theft.
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Judge: School corp.’s inattentiveness doesn’t support benefits reversal

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals was split Wednesday over whether a notice sent regarding a hearing on unemployment benefits required reversing the grant of benefits because the employer found the notice confusing.
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US Supreme Court: DOMA unconstitutional; finds lack of standing to appeal in Perry

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Supreme Court of the United States struck down the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday in a 5-4 decision that is confined to only those in lawful marriages. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority decision, writing the Act is a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.
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Justices slam agreement to no parenting time, no child support

June 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court had harsh words Tuesday for parents and attorneys who enter into agreements that stipulate giving up parenting time in lieu of paying child support. There must be extraordinary circumstances to justify denying parenting time.
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SCOTUS strikes portion of Voting Rights Act; will hand down term’s final decisions Wednesday

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Supreme Court of the United States held Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional Tuesday, ruling that its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to pre-clearance. The case stems from Shelby County in Alabama asking for a declaratory judgment that sections 4(b) and 5 are facially unconstitutional and a permanent injunction against their enforcement.
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Resisting law enforcement conviction reduced due to double jeopardy violation

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A post-conviction court “clearly erred” when it found a man’s trial attorney did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday. The judges ordered the court to reduce Timmy Zieman’s Class C felony resisting law enforcement conviction to a Class D felony because of a violation of double jeopardy principles.
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Refusal to remove biased board member ends potential administrative remedies

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After finding that the exhaustion of administrative remedies was excused for a company seeking to operate a stone quarry because a drainage board member was biased against the project, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the trial court acquired subject matter jurisdiction and properly denied the board member’s motion to dismiss.
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Supreme Court kicks ‘buyer beware’ vs. disclosure case back to trial court

June 25, 2013
Dave Stafford
A Lake County dispute over whether a buyer or seller is responsible for a few thousand dollars worth of home defects is headed back to the trial court after a divided Indiana Supreme Court ordered a legal do-over.
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Justices reverse rule of law going back to Civil War era

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After requiring for nearly 150 years that a defendant charged with murder or treason be required to prove he or she is entitled to bail, a divided Indiana Supreme Court ruled it now falls upon the state to show that “the proof is evident or the presumption strong” that the defendant is guilty and not entitled to bail.
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Evidence supports felony inmate fraud conviction

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Finding that a defendant obtained a future interest in bail money as well as his release from prison – which constitute property under Indiana law – the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Elnesto Ray Valle’s Class C felony inmate fraud conviction. Valle convinced a stranger to pay his bail.
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Justices: Officer had reasonable suspicion window tint violated law

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the denial of a defendant’s motion to suppress cocaine found on him after his car was stopped by police on the belief the car’s window tint did not comply with Indiana statute. The justices found the officer had reasonable suspicion that the tint was in violation of the Window Tint Statute.
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Sex Offender Registration Act not ex post facto as applied to Perry County man

June 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the denial of a petition to remove a convicted child molester from the sex offender registry, finding the Sex Offender Registration Act is non-punitive as applied to him.
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SCOTUS sends affirmative-action case back to 5th Circuit

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A lawsuit claiming that a Texas university's consideration of race in its admissions practices violates the Equal Protection Clause has been sent back by the Supreme Court of the United States to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In its ruling on the suit filed by a Caucasian woman denied admission in 2008, the justices did not strike down the use of affirmative action by the university.
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COA affirms trial court dismissal of judicial review but differs on reasoning

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
An Allen Superior judge’s determination that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear a zoning issue, thus requiring dismissal, was erroneous, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But the judges affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case because of a lack of supporting materials and a late request for a filing deadline extension.
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Justices: Excluding expert witness was error by trial court

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Four Indiana justices Friday held that a Montgomery Superior judge erred when he struck the plaintiff’s expert witness in a medical malpractice lawsuit and dismissed the suit under Indiana Trial Rules 37(B) and 41(E).
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SCOTUS rules in favor of Ball State in hostile work environment suit

June 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that a woman failed to prove she was subject to a hostile work environment at Ball State University.
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Appeals court upholds woman’s sentence for treatment of cats

June 21, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Fort Wayne woman who kept more than 100 cats between two properties in deplorable conditions had her sentence for multiple counts of criminal mischief and animal cruelty upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The judges declined to revise her sentence because it was appropriate given her character and the nature of the offense.
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Injured man who sued estate can only recover insurance policy limits

June 21, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A man who was injured in an auto accident with a woman who died the following year cannot recover any funds from her estate, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But the trial court didn’t err in denying the estate’s motion to amend the jury award, because it is a valid judgment despite that the man can only recover funds available under the policy limits of the woman’s insurance policy.
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Summary judgment affirmed for casino in collapsing chair suit

June 21, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The manufacturer of a chair that came down on a patron’s leg as she sat on it appealed the denial of its summary judgment on the woman’s complaint, arguing the northern Indiana casino shouldn’t have been granted summary judgment. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Friday, but ordered more proceedings on Horseshoe Casino’s third-party complaint against Gasser Chair Co.
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SCOTUS issues 3 decisions; opinions on Ball State case, same-sex marriage to come

June 20, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Those who hoped to learn how the Supreme Court of the United States will rule on same-sex marriage likely will need to wait until next week. The U.S. justices issued three opinions Thursday, although none were from the highly anticipated cases before them.
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Man’s claims that protective sweep, search are unconstitutional fail

June 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A protective sweep and subsequent search of a house following the issuance of a search warrant were reasonable under the federal and state constitutions, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The defendant argued that the scope of the sweep – which led to the discovery of drugs and paraphernalia – was impermissibly broad.
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COA reverses denial of petition to dismiss protective order

June 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A Jackson Superior Court erred in denying a couple’s request to dismiss a protective order the wife had taken out against her husband, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, because the statute contains the word “shall” regarding the court’s actions when one files for a dismissal of the protective order.
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SCOTUS ruling emboldens lawmakers to expand DNA collection

June 19, 2013
Dave Stafford
This time next year, Indiana may join the majority of states that collect DNA samples from people arrested on suspicion of committing felonies, rather than only from those convicted. Lawmakers who’ve been stymied are encouraged by a Supreme Court of the United States decision upholding the practice.
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SCOTUS: isolated, naturally occurring DNA segment can't be patented

June 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A naturally occurring DNA segment is not eligible for a patent simply because it has been isolated, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled June 13. DNA that is not a product of nature may be patent eligible, however.
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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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