Courts

Texts present unique challenges in evidence preservation and admission

February 11, 2015
Dave Stafford
Of the billions of text messages sent daily in the world, a few will wind up as evidence in litigation. A few that should will not, and that could mean trouble for lawyers.
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Indiana Judges Association: Law, time and judgment are shared responsibilities

February 11, 2015
David Dreyer
When New York City claimed 20-30 inches of snow were coming (and got less than 10), I was reminded of so many lawyers who claim three days for their case (but only use one). All of us on the bench or bar tailor our talents toward forming our best judgments. Such a responsibility necessarily includes the talented due consideration of time.
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Some counties funnel domestic relations cases to specific courts, others split load

February 11, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Indianapolis legal community was divided in the early 1990s over a plan to concentrate domestic relations cases into specific courts. The proposal became a reality, but the reality became too burdensome.
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Disciplinary Actions - 2/11/15

February 11, 2015
IL Staff
Read who have recently been suspended by the Indiana Supreme Court.
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Odyssey vendor chosen to handle statewide e-filing

February 10, 2015
Dave Stafford
Tyler Technologies Inc., which contracts with the Indiana judiciary to provide the Odyssey case management system to courts around the state, has been selected as the vendor that will manage statewide e-filing in trial courts.
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Supreme Court issues order on removed Muncie judge

February 10, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Muncie City Court judge removed from office last month abused her authority by wrongly jailing defendants and attempting to silence critics in her courtroom, and disgraced the judiciary by using a racial slur in the streets, according to the Indiana Supreme Court order issued Tuesday.
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Amended complaint: Marion Co. sheriff re-arrests those freed

February 10, 2015
Dave Stafford
Released inmates in Indianapolis are subjected to a “standard operating procedure” of re-arrest and being held behind bars – sometimes for days – after being acquitted, freed by a judge or posting bond, alleges an amended federal complaint filed against the Marion County Sheriff’s Department.
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Criminal code funding bill passes House committee

February 9, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
The Indiana House Judiciary Committee has unanimously passed a funding bill that would provide the resources that many agree are necessary to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders who repeatedly reenter the criminal justice system.
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Justices add malpractice, adoption cases to docket

February 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Supreme Court will review summary judgment in favor of healthcare providers sued for medical malpractice in a stillbirth case as well as an adoption by a grandmother who claimed a 1997 conviction for neglect of a dependant should not automatically bar her from adopting the children.
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Appeals panel reinstates med-mal case

February 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
A trial court erred in granting summary judgment to a hospital and a doctor who performed a hysterectomy during which an arm board became unattached. After the patient’s arm dangled for much of the surgery, she was diagnosed with nerve damage in her arm.
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COA: Ex-husband entitled to legal fees for former wife's contempt

February 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
The ex-husband in an acrimonious domestic relations case is entitled to $9,000 in legal fees a trial court awarded to him as well as judgments in his favor on parenting time and child support, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday.
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Double jeopardy lifts 2 of burglar’s multiple convictions

February 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
A man who repeatedly broke into property and stole tools and items being used to renovate a long-vacant farmhouse likely will remain sentenced to 50 years in prison, even though the Indiana Court of Appeals vacated two of his convictions as violations of the prohibition against double jeopardy.
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Mom claims agent framed her in son's death, sues government

February 9, 2015
 Associated Press
A woman who was wrongfully convicted of murdering her 3-year-old son is suing the government and alleges a federal officer helped investigators frame her for the crime.
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Fremont Town Court judge admonished for ex parte communication

February 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
A Steuben County town court judge who was admonished in 2012 for improper ex parte communications for assuming the role of prosecutor in a traffic infraction in her court has been admonished again for a similar violation.
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Judge counts his blessings while slowly going blind

February 9, 2015
 Associated Press
George Pancol, judge of Madison Circuit Court 2, is going blind. The doctors can't agree why.
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Indiana woman who fought gay marriage ban dies of cancer

February 9, 2015
 Associated Press
A terminally ill woman whose desire to have her same-sex marriage recognized by Indiana before she died helped galvanize efforts to overturn the state's gay marriage ban has lost her battle with cancer.
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Ex-Martin County judge pleads guilty to failing to pay income tax

February 6, 2015
IL Staff
One-time Martin Circuit judge and county prosecutor Robert J. Howell pleaded guilty Friday to charges that he failed to pay more than $66,000 in taxes on receipts from his law firm in Loogootee.
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Appeals court strips grandmother’s visitation, cites grandchild’s adoption

February 6, 2015
Dave Stafford
An Indiana Court of Appeals panel Friday stripped a maternal grandparent of visitation rights, finding she had no standing to seek visitation. The parents of the child had divorced, and the father remarried shortly after the mother’s death.
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Prosecutor: 50-plus warrants issued in Evansville meth ring

February 6, 2015
 Associated Press
Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nicholas Hermann said federal arrest warrants have been issued for more than 50 people allegedly involved in a meth-trafficking ring that funneled the drug into the area from four other states.
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COA reverses confinement conviction, cautions prosecution on future statements

February 5, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a Lake County man’s Class B felony criminal confinement conviction because the trial court erred in admitting out-of-court statements by an alleged accomplice.
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Hamilton County establishing veterans court

February 5, 2015
Dave Stafford
A veterans court could be up and running in Hamilton County within 45 days after the county council on Wednesday approved startup funding.
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7th Circuit affirms carjacking enhancement stemming from bank robbery

February 5, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals quickly dismissed a defendant’s argument that his sentence for bank robbery should not include a two-level sentence enhancement for carjacking because the keys to the car were obtained by rummaging through the victim’s purse and not through force or intimidation.
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7th Circuit stresses holding Pavey hearing separate from summary judgment hearing

February 5, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the Indiana Department of Correction and its commissioner on a disabled inmate’s claims of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The judges also suggested that courts do not hold a Pavey hearing at the same time as a hearing on a motion for summary judgment.
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Defendant must try to prevent crime discovery for statute of limitations to toll

February 5, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
In dealing with an issue of first impression, the Indiana Supreme Court found a robbery charge should be dismissed because it was filed outside of the statute of limitations. The state argued the defendant had concealed evidence of the crime, thus tolling the five-year statute of limitations.
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Marion County justice complex decision could come at last minute

February 4, 2015
Indianapolis Business Journal, Kathleen McLaughlin
The Indianapolis City-County Council could push the closing of a $1.6 billion deal for a new criminal justice complex to the last minute.
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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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