Court opinions

Juvenile reversal sets new conditional admissions standard

May 21, 2013
Dave Stafford

A Court of Appeals panel on Tuesday reversed a ruling in a juvenile case and set a new standard for how juvenile judges must handle conditional admission agreements when probable cause is disputed.

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'Pleading the Fifth' not the same as admitting to criminal act

May 20, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A reference made during a trial to “pleading the Fifth” is not an admission of a crime and, therefore, by itself is not grounds for a mistrial, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.
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Lengthy gun sentence affirmed in 2011 hotel standoff

May 20, 2013
Dave Stafford
A federal prison sentence of more than 33 years was upheld Monday for a career criminal convicted of leading police on a chase, assaulting an officer until he lost consciousness and staging an armed, four-hour standoff at an Indianapolis hotel in August 2011.
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Court rules county may re-establish hospital building fund

May 20, 2013
Dave Stafford
Jasper County was improperly denied the ability to establish a cumulative building fund and tax levy to enlarge and remodel a hospital, the Indiana Tax Court ruled.
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7th Circuit orders resentencing, muses ‘wine speaks truth’ in felon gun case

May 20, 2013
Dave Stafford
An Elkhart felon’s defense that he was drunk at the time he told police that guns they confiscated from his girlfriend’s apartment belonged to him failed to sway the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which did find another error and order him to be resentenced.
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Class A felony sentences not inappropriate under Appellate Rule 7(B)

May 17, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
Two convicted child molesters will spend more time incarcerated after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled their sentences were not inappropriate under Appellate Rule 7(B).
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Justices block Schiralli’s Lake County bench transfer

May 17, 2013
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Supreme Court blocked the transfer of a judge who sought to replace former Lake Superior Juvenile Court Judge Mary Beth Bonaventura after her appointment to head the Department of Child Services.
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Bailiff’s communication with juror leads to reversal of convictions

May 16, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The bailiff at a man’s trial for criminal recklessness and resisting law enforcement improperly communicated with the jury foreperson regarding reaching a verdict, leading the Indiana Court of Appeals to reverse Jason Lee Sowers’ convictions.
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COA: Man knowingly pleaded guilty to fraud charge

May 16, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A post-conviction court correctly denied relief to a man on his felony fraud conviction after determining that his felony failure to register conviction should be vacated, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. Anthony McCullough pleaded guilty to the separate charges in one agreement.
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COA rules for first time on retroactivity of Mineral Lapse Act

May 15, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals has held that a portion of the Mineral Lapse Act is limited in its retroactive application to only the 20-year period immediately proceeding the Sept. 2, 1971, effective date of the Act.
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Justices rule in favor of Vincennes Girl Scouts in dispute over camp

May 14, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana Code 32-17-10-2 is unconstitutional as applied retroactively to a land-use restriction in a Vincennes Girl Scout organization’s deed requiring an Illinois Girl Scout group to use deeded land as a camp for 49 years.
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Justices: Punitive damages cap, allocation do not violate Indiana Constitution

May 14, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously reversed a Marion Superior judge’s 2011 decision in a sex-abuse case that held the statutes that cap punitive damages and dictate their allocation violate the Indiana Constitution.
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Father’s testimony at molestation trial not fundamental error

May 14, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a Lake County man’s conviction of Class C felony child molesting, rejecting the defendant’s claims that some of the victim’s father’s testimony at trial resulted in fundamental error.
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Judges tell trial court to declare commissioner’s order void

May 13, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s denial of a title insurance company’s verified petition for judicial review and declaratory relief, finding the court erred by requiring a separate showing of prejudice because the Indiana insurance commissioner failed to comply with a mandatory statutory deadline regarding an order setting an investigatory hearing.
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Court clarifies decision on jury instructions

May 13, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s request for rehearing on a case in which the judges found the trial court erred in not giving a defendant’s tendered jury instruction, but that the error was harmless. The state contended that two cases dictated that there was no error by the court.
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SCOTUS rules against Indiana farmer in seed patent case

May 13, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
A unanimous Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that patent exhaustion doesn’t allow a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.
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Man’s prior conviction doesn’t render him a career offender

May 10, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a man’s habeas petition, finding his conviction of arson in the third degree in Delaware doesn’t qualify as a crime of violence under U.S.S.G. Section 4B.1. As such, his current sentence should be reduced to reflect he isn’t a career offender.
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State not trying to circumvent adverse ruling in refiling charges

May 10, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s felony cocaine dealing conviction, finding the state, when originally dismissing charges and then later refiling them, was not trying to avoid an adverse ruling that barred testimony of a confidential informant.
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Denial of post-conviction relief upheld by COA

May 10, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Even if the Indiana Court of Appeals was to assume that a defendant’s trial counsel performed below prevailing professional norms by not explaining the potential immigration consequences of his guilty plea, the judges ruled the defendant wasn’t prejudiced because the trial court explained those consequences.
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COA to trial judges: enter restitution orders at sentencing

May 10, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals sent a case in ‘procedural limbo’ back to trial court to enter a restitution order within 30 days, which will allow the defendant to appeal his aggravated battery conviction. The appellate judges also advised trial courts on the pitfalls of postponing ordering restitution when ordering a sentence.
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Woman who used FedEx to send med mal complaint didn’t timely file

May 9, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Third-party carriers are not included in the statute regarding filing proposed medical malpractice complaints with the Indiana Department of Insurance, so a woman’s complaint that was sent via FedEx within the two-year statute of limitations – but not stamped until after the limitations expired – is not considered timely filed, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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Judges reverse teen’s gang-related adjudication

May 9, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The state was unable to prove that a 14-year-old Indianapolis boy committed criminal gang activity when he and several other juveniles followed another teen after a party, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
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COA: More proceedings are needed on parents’ ITCA compliance

May 8, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Finding a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Richmond parents’ complied with the Indiana Tort Claims Act notice provision when filing a lawsuit after their severely disabled daughter died at school, the Indiana Court of Appeals ordered that issue to go before a jury.
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7th Circuit rejects claim that FMLA should be extended to non-eligible employees

May 8, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for a transportation company on a fired worker’s claims that her termination violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. The judges didn’t agree with the woman that FMLA protection should extend to non-eligible employees who request leave for future periods.
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7th Circuit: ‘Ransom demand’ requires third-party involvement

May 8, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In order to enhance a criminal sentence on the basis of a ransom demand, that demand must be conveyed to a third-party, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held Wednesday.
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  1. 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

  2. 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!!!

  3. 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.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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