Indiana Lawyer Staff

7th Circuit agrees crack cocaine offender's sentence can't be reduced

February 22, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals addressed an issue involving crack cocaine sentencing Tuesday – whether a defendant sentenced under the career offender guideline, but with a downward departure for substantial assistance, is eligible for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(c)(2).
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Justices appoint pro temp judge for Marion County traffic court

February 22, 2011
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court has appointed Indianapolis attorney Jane H. Conley as Judge Pro Tempore in Marion Superior Court, according to a Feb. 16 order posted on the court’s website this week.
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SCOTUS denies one Indiana case, sidesteps others for now

February 22, 2011
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States denied one prisoner lawsuit from Indiana today, while not saying whether it will address another case from this state on judicial speech. No decision was made on a third Hoosier case it heard arguments on more than a month ago addressing vehicular flight.
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Indiana man named Advocate of the Year

February 22, 2011
IL Staff
A Marion man will be honored in March by the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association with the G.F. Bettineski Child Advocate of the Year Award. Frank West of CASA of Grant County will receive the award during the association’s 30th annual national conference in Chicago.
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Judges reverse summary judgment for agent, partner

February 21, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
A case involving a Bloomington real estate transaction required the Indiana Court of Appeals to decipher the statutes in question without the aid of previous interpretations because of a lack of previous caselaw interpreting them.
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Religious-worship burglary enhancement doesn’t violate constitutions

February 21, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled against a man who argued the enhancement of his burglary conviction to a Class B felony because he burgled a church violated the federal and state constitutions. In the first impression issue, the judges held the enhancement doesn’t violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment or Article 1, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution.
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Poverty law event at IU-Indy March 1

February 21, 2011
IL Staff
The Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, and the Central Indiana Peace Corps Association are hosting a poverty law event that will discuss issues facing American families.
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Judges address first impression issue on attorney fees

February 18, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
For the first time, the Indiana Court of Appeals addressed a contract that included a provision stating the signee is responsible for 40 percent in attorney fees if a hospital had to initiate collection efforts to recover amounts owed.
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DCS to impose 5 percent reduction for reimbursement in 2011

February 18, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Department of Child Services and IARCCA, an Association of Children and Family Services, announced their agreement today in a dispute regarding reimbursement rate cuts. The dispute led to a lawsuit filed in late 2009 between the two organizations.
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Judge affirms retaining charges but finds criminal prosecution unjust

February 18, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
An Indiana Court of Appeals judge expressed concern that a woman’s criminal case may be affected by her admittance of violating several city ordinances after her dogs attacked two people.
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Book focuses on state's justices

February 18, 2011
IL Staff
Indiana Supreme Court history buffs have a new book to read. The Indiana Historical Society Press has published “Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court,” which explores the lives of the state’s 106 justices.
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Justices adopt COA adoption holding, invite attorney fee motions

February 17, 2011
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer on a St. Joseph County adoption case and fully adopted a holding by the state’s intermediate appellate court. In doing so, the state justices invited the prevailing biological mother to request attorney fees because of what it found to be possible frivolous or bad faith efforts.
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Supreme Court hears arguments in victims' advocates subpoena case

February 17, 2011
Rebecca Berfanger
The Indiana Supreme Court heard oral arguments today involving the subpoena of records from a domestic violence agency by a defendant who had been charged with two counts of Class A felony child molesting.
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Mandatory retirement, unified court bills still alive

February 17, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The bill that would end a mandatory retirement age for certain judges and the bill that would unify Clark County courts are ready for third reading in their respective houses.
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IU law school program in Egypt halted due to protests

February 16, 2011
Rebecca Berfanger
Students started classes in January but there is uncertainty when they will resume because of the unrest in the country.
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Emergency transfers by Supreme Court not common

February 16, 2011
Michael Hoskins
What attorneys might consider an emergency legal issue may not draw the same urgency from the Indiana Supreme Court. In fact, it usually doesn’t.
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COA reverses and remands CHINS finding regarding stepfather

February 15, 2011
Rebecca Berfanger
After the juvenile court adjudicated two minor children as children in need of services following their mother’s admission to allegations filed by the Indiana Department of Child Services, the majority of a Court of Appeals panel today reversed and remanded that finding in favor of the stepfather, who denied the allegations and asked for a fact-finding hearing. One Court of Appeals judge dissented, writing that she disagreed that the trial court violated the stepfather’s right to due process in this case.
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Fair Finance trustee sues Indy attorney for $375,000

February 15, 2011
Greg Andrews
The bankruptcy trustee for Fair Finance Co. has filed a lawsuit against Indianapolis attorney Stephen Plopper and his wife, saying they defaulted on a 2003 loan from the defunct Tim Durham-owned business and now owe $375,000.
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Supreme Court suspends judge for 30 days

February 15, 2011
Michael Hoskins
A 30-day unpaid suspension begins next week for Marion Superior Traffic Judge William Young, though the chief justice expects the Indiana Supreme Court would have issued a lengthier sanction if a settlement had not been reached in the misconduct case.
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Court reverses class certification in hail-damage action

February 14, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the class certification granted by the District Court in a suit brought by unsatisfied homeowners following a 2006 hailstorm in central Indiana.
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Judges reverse denial of motion to suppress

February 14, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the denial of man’s motion to suppress, finding the traffic stop that resulted in his drunk driving arrest wasn’t supported by reasonable suspicion.
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High court takes 4 cases

February 14, 2011
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court has accepted four cases on transfer, including one in which they released an opinion on the matter the same day they granted transfer.
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CLE commission elects 2011 officers

February 14, 2011
IL Staff
The Commission for Continuing Legal Education has elected four officers to serve during the 2011 calendar year, the Indiana Supreme Court announced Monday.
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Supreme Court interactive event rescheduled

February 14, 2011
IL Staff
The Indiana Supreme Court has rescheduled its interactive drama “Bound for Freedom: The Case of Polly Strong,” which was postponed after a winter storm hit central Indiana earlier this month.
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Attorney reprimanded for charging unreasonable fees

February 14, 2011
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded a Hamilton County attorney for violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5(a) by making agreements for and charging unreasonable fees.
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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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