Lake County

Defamation suit against community activist dismissed for failure to prove actual malice

December 15, 2016
Olivia Covington
A Lake County judge has dismissed a defamation suit brought against a northern Indiana radio personality and community activist by a police dispatcher, writing that the dispatcher failed to prove that the activist knowingly made false allegations of racial profiling.
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Indiana judge gives father 40 years in 5-year-old's death

December 14, 2016
 Associated Press
An Indiana judge has sentenced a 35-year-old man to 40 years in prison for the death of his 5-year-old son who was found bound and beaten.
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Federal lawsuit victor puts the ‘pro’ in pro se

December 14, 2016
Dave Stafford
An ex-teacher who won a $203,840 due process jury award in his lawsuit over his termination speaks out.
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Lake County sheriff, Portage mayor charged in towing-bribe schemes

November 18, 2016
Dave Stafford
Lake County Sheriff and county Democratic Party Chairman John Buncich and Portage Mayor James Snyder have been indicted on public corruption and bribery charges handed down by a grand jury.
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Woman's family sues Indiana church, pastor after drowning

November 18, 2016
 Associated Press
The family of an 18-year-old woman who drowned in a swimming pool at her pastor's home where she had been babysitting is suing the pastor and his northwest Indiana megachurch.
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FBI, Indiana troopers raid offices of Lake County sheriff

November 11, 2016
 Associated Press
The FBI and Indiana State Police raided the offices of Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and seized boxes of documents Thursday, though the target of their investigation remained unclear.
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Divided COA tosses $2M DUI crash verdict over old convictions

October 13, 2016
Dave Stafford
The majority of an Indiana Court of Appeals panel held Thursday that a drunken driver’s decades-old convictions for alcohol-related offenses were irrelevant and prejudicial in a civil suit following a personal-injury crash. A dissenting judge, though, wrote the admissibility of such evidence should go to its weight rather than its age.
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Lake Circuit Judge Paras resigning early

September 30, 2016
Dave Stafford
Lake Circuit Court Judge George Paras will leave the bench early after being unseated in May’s Democratic primary by Highland lawyer Marissa McDermott.
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Former Lake Station mayor, wife sentenced in gambling scheme

September 29, 2016
 Associated Press
The former mayor of Lake Station will serve four years in prison and pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines for using campaign money and city food pantry funds to gamble.
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Former Lake Station mayor admits to wiretapping employees

September 2, 2016
 Associated Press
New court records show that the former mayor of the northwest Indiana city of Lake Station admitted to recording and listening to phone calls of City Hall employees over several years starting in 2011.
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Attorneys argue Indiana death penalty unconstitutional

August 22, 2016
 Associated Press
Attorneys for a Lake County man who faces charges in the deaths of seven women have argued in court filings that the state of Indiana's death penalty law is unconstitutional.
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$25M verdict poses tough questions for COA

August 10, 2016
Marilyn Odendahl
Hearing arguments about a case that resulted in what may be among the largest awards for loss of consortium, the Indiana Court of Appeals repeatedly questioned what amount of damages is too much and when a jury’s decision should be overturned.
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Plaintiffs lose state court challenge to anti-conflict of interest law

July 28, 2016
IL Staff
The five northern Indiana police officers or firefighters who challenged a state law that would prohibit them from simultaneously also serving in elected office had their suit challenging the 2013 law dismissed Tuesday.
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COA hears arguments in $25M wrongful death verdict

July 27, 2016
Marilyn Odendahl
In a wrongful death case argued before the Indiana Court of Appeals Tuesday, the panel considered the questions of when are damages too high and when should an appellate court set aside a jury’s verdict?
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Quoting Dickens’ ‘Bleak House,’ judge decides 24-year-old lawsuit

July 14, 2016
Dave Stafford
A Lake County judge on Wednesday ordered summary judgment for defendants in a 24-year-old lawsuit he likened to the interminable Jarndyce and Jarndyce case in Charles Dickens’ novel “Bleak House.”
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Official to plead guilty to tax assessment shakedown

July 12, 2016
 Associated Press
A northwest Indiana assessor's office employee will plead guilty to allegedly shaking down businesses in exchange for reducing their tax assessments.
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Indiana councilman seeks federal probe in man’s jail death

July 11, 2016
 Associated Press
A Lake County councilman in is calling for a federal investigation into the death of a man at the county jail who had been arrested for speeding.
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Former mayor's stepdaughter gets home detention for theft

July 7, 2016
 Associated Press
A federal judge has sentenced the stepdaughter of a former northwestern Indiana mayor to six months of home detention followed by two years on probation for embezzling funds from a city court.
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Attorney wins $9.5M for family of man who died in rehab hospital

June 21, 2016
Scott Roberts
An Indiana attorney has won what he claims is a record amount from a wrongful death lawsuit as a Lake County jury Friday awarded the family of a man who died in a rehabilitation hospital $9.5 million.
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COA: Notice of sale was mailed within required time period

June 14, 2016
Scott Roberts
The Indiana Court of Appeals found notice of a tax sale was mailed 21 days before the sale took place as prescribed by Indiana Code, so it affirmed the denial of a man’s motion to set aside tax deeds on property he used to own.
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Indiana State Police to investigate missing court records

June 2, 2016
 Associated Press
Indiana State Police plans to investigate why Lake Station City Court failed to report license restrictions to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, according to an official with the agency.
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Darryl Pinkins’ freedom a long, emotional battle for IU professor, students

June 1, 2016
Dave Stafford
Darryl Pinkins walked out of prison a free man in April after almost 25 years, exonerated in a heinous 1989 rape by advances in DNA forensics. But before the science could free him, Pinkins needed someone to believe in his innocence.
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Attorneys for death row inmate seek more time for appeal

May 24, 2016
 Associated Press
Attorneys for a Gary man sentenced to death for killing his wife and two teenage stepchildren have asked a magistrate to give him more time to sign a document needed for the case to be reviewed.
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Lake County investigating unreported driving suspensions

May 19, 2016
 Associated Press
Prosecutors in northwest Indiana are investigating whether a former Lake Station city clerk intentionally failed to send convictions in drunken driving cases to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
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Teen courts across northwest Indiana dole out justice

May 18, 2016
 Associated Press
The Teen Court program in Lake County, along with others in northwest Indiana, gives teens an alternative to the traditional trajectory of juvenile justice. The program uses a novel approach in which a jury of teens decides the punishment for peers who are diverted from the juvenile justice system.
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  2. 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.

  3. 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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