Legal News

Justices strip adoption, reinstate statute COA struck down

June 12, 2015
Dave Stafford
An adoptive maternal grandmother who the Court of Appeals ruled provided care in her grandchildren's best interests despite a 1997 neglect conviction is legally barred from adopting them, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled. Justices also rebuked a COA determination that the statute was unconstitutional as applied.
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Judges split over whether to reinstate jury verdict

June 11, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ordered a jury verdict, tossed out by the trial court in a negligence case stemming from a car accident, reinstated because the judge did not follow Trial Rule 59(J). The dissenting judge believed the trial court should have the opportunity to supplement its order first.
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COA finds homeowners association committed slander of title

June 11, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an Iowa couple, finding the homeowners association where the couple lived and subsequently rented out their home committed slander of title. The homeowners association recorded a lien against their home after finding the couple did not comply with the covenant's requirements when leasing their home.
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2 judges, public defender selected as COA judge finalists

June 11, 2015
Dave Stafford
Two trial court judges with a breadth of experience hearing criminal and civil matters and a public defender who’s tried hundreds of appeals are finalists to be the next Indiana Court of Appeals judge.
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Renewed fight expected over Indiana abortion clinic rules

June 11, 2015
 Associated Press
Indiana's push to place tougher restrictions on a Lafayette Planned Parenthood clinic that provides abortions only by using drugs, not surgery, could spark a new court fight under a revised law set to take effect in July.
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Nominating Commission names 3 finalists

June 10, 2015
IL Staff
The next Indiana Court of Appeals judge will be Marion Superior Judge Robert R. Altice Jr., Wabash Superior Judge Christopher M. Goff or Patricia McMath of the Marion County Public Defender Agency. They are the three finalists that the Indiana Judicial Nominating Commission selected Wednesday after holding interviews most of the day.
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COA reverses blanket exclusion for testimony of eavesdropping officers

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
In a split decision, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided on interlocutory appeal that a trial court should not have issued a blanket exclusion order preventing all of the officers who eavesdropped on a defendant’s conversation with his attorney from testifying in any matter in the case.
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Hussmann to retire from Southern District

June 10, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann Jr. has announced plans to retire Jan. 31, 2016, opening another vacancy in the Indiana federal judiciary.
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Wife loses appeal of custody arrangement, contempt finding

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A trial court did not abuse its discretion when it found a wife in contempt of the court’s preliminary order regarding parenting time and visitation and when it entered a custody arrangement not requested by the parties, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.
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War vet says Indianapolis house explosion caused flashback

June 10, 2015
 Associated Press
A war veteran has testified that a 2012 explosion that heavily damaged an Indianapolis neighborhood and killed two people caused a flashback to his time in Afghanistan.
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Court ruling against gay marriage could cause legal 'chaos'

June 10, 2015
 Associated Press
Gay and lesbian couples could face legal chaos if the Supreme Court of the United States rules against same-sex marriage in the next few weeks.
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COA: Accomplice liability instruction is harmless error

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
Although the trial court erred in instructing the jury during a man's murder and attempted murder trial regarding accomplice liability as it applied to attempted murder, the error was harmless, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday.
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INDOT not entitled to immunity in wrongful death action

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Department of Transportation failed to convince the Court of Appeals that it is entitled to discretionary function immunity under the Indiana Tort Claims Act in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of a construction worker killed while working on an interstate project.
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COA reverses probation revocation of man unable to fully pay restitution

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A trial court should not have revoked the probation of a man who was ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution as a condition of his probation, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The man was able to prove that he could not fully pay off the balance owed because he was unable to obtain a reverse mortgage on his home.
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Care facility’s petition for judicial review barred by res judicata

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A Merrillville nursing facility’s third petition seeking judicial review of the state Department of Health’s decision to deny a full license to the facility was barred by a previous petition for judicial review of the matter, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.
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7th Circuit: No evidence officer was victim of racial discrimination

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the grant of defendants' motion for summary judgment on a St. Joseph County Police sergeant's lawsuit claiming discrimination because he is African-American. The judges held the man was unable to prove discrimination after he was passed over for promotions or began working in the department's property room.
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Evidence seized from probationer’s roommate violated 4th Amendment

June 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the partial denial of a man's request to suppress drug evidence found during a routine warrantless search of the residence he shared with a man on probation. The probationer only consented to searches based on reasonable suspicion.
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ABA denies provisional approval to Indiana Tech Law School

June 9, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
The American Bar Association has denied provisional accreditation to Indiana Tech Law School.
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Retired ILS leader gets national honor

June 9, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
Norman Metzger, retired executive director of Indiana Legal Services, is receiving national recognition for his work and dedication to providing legal assistance for the poor. 
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Suing wrong man over Indy skyline photo costs lawyer $34K

June 9, 2015
Dave Stafford
A lawyer and photographer who sued hundreds of people claiming copyright infringement of his Indianapolis skyline picture must pay almost $34,000 in legal fees to a defendant who never used the image.
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Justices decline to make bright-line rule on admission of coverage limits

June 9, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the admission of a couple’s uninsured motorist policy limits at a trial in which the couple sued its insurer to recover under that provision. But in doing so, the justices declined requests by the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association and the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana to adopt a bright-line rule on the admission of coverage limits.
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Appeals court tosses suits challenging climate change plan

June 9, 2015
 Associated Press
A federal appeals court on Tuesday threw out a pair of high-profile lawsuits challenging the Obama administration's sweeping plan to address climate change, saying it's too early to challenge a proposed rule that isn't yet final.
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Judicial candidate serving as juror was not fundamental error

June 9, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A man convicted of child molesting argued that an attorney and judicial candidate should not have been allowed to serve as a juror on his trial. But he failed to object to her placement on the jury at the time of the trial, and the Indiana Court of Appeals rejected his claim of fundamental error.
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COA orders foreclosed Golden Corral to be in sheriff’s sale

June 9, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the holding of a Lake County court that allowed the mortgage holder of a restaurant in Merrillville to immediately take possession of the parcel of land. Under Indiana law, the parcel should go into a sheriff's sale, the majority held.
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Attorney: House explosion stupid, selfish plan gone awry

June 9, 2015
 Associated Press
A man accused of plotting a deadly explosion that damaged or destroyed more than 80 homes in an Indianapolis neighborhood should have known the scheme could kill people, even if that wasn't his intent, a prosecutor told jurors Monday as the murder trial began.
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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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