Opinions

Opinions Sept. 22, 2014

September 22, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of: Trezanay M. Atkins
49S00-1306-DI-435.
Attorney discipline. Suspends Atkins for two years without automatic reinstatement, finding she violated Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b), committing a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness; and 8.4(c), engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
 
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Opinions Sept. 19, 2014

September 19, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
City of Mitchell v. Randy Phelix
47A01-1402-PL-88
Civil plenary. Reverses denial of its complaint for a declaratory judgment related to former Mitchell city policeman Randy Phelix’s claim for medical expenses due to disabilities resulting from dismantling methamphetamine labs. The appeals court held that the trial court erred when it ruled that Phelix was entitled to have the city pay his medical bills under I.C. 36-8-4-5 despite the worker’s compensation carrier’s denial of his claim.
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Opinions Sept. 18, 2014

September 18, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
State of Indiana v. Frank Greene
49S02-1403-PC-172
Post conviction. Reverses grant of post-conviction relief, which would have reduced Greene’s Class B felony criminal confinement conviction to a Class D felony. Greene did not receive ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel due to his attorneys’ failure to present allegedly controlling precedent from this court. Greene mischaracterizes the application of Long v. State.
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Opinions Sept. 17, 2014

September 17, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Robert P. Benavides v. State of Indiana (NFP)
18A02-1405-PC-318
Post conviction. Affirms dismissal of petition for writ of state habeas corpus.
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Opinions Sept. 16, 2014

September 16, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Willie Jenkins v. Mary Jenkins
49A02-1403-DR-132
Domestic relation. Reverses grant of Mary Jenkins’ motion to vacate a contempt hearing. It was not in the interests of justice for the trial court to ignore its rule of allowing 15 days to respond and granting her motion prior to allowing Willie Jenkins time for response. Remands for further proceedings.
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Opinions Sept. 15, 2014

September 15, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jeremiah Lee Collins v. State of Indiana (NFP)
21A01-1405-CR-192
Criminal.  Affirms revocation of probation.
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Opinions Sept. 12, 2014

September 12, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In re the Marriage of Tina M. Harpenau v. Robin P. Harpenau
62A01-1401-DR-37
Domestic relation.  Affirms grant of father’s petition to modify, awarding him primary physical custody of the children and granting mother the same parenting time as father originally had, as well as that mother pay child support. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in modifying custody due to her proposed move or in modifying child support accordingly.
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Opinions Sept. 11, 2014

September 11, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Securities and Exchange Commission v. First Choice Management Services Inc., et al; CRM Energy Partners and John W. Hannah v. Joseph D. Bradley, Receiver
14-1270, 14-2284
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller Jr.
Civil. Affirms denial of CRM’s motion to intervene in the sale of an oil and gas lease in order to compensate victims of fraud. Dismisses its appeal of the District Court’s approval of the sale. CRM waited too long to intervene in the action.
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Opinions Sept. 10, 2014

September 10, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Barbara J. Pohl v. Michael G. Pohl
32S04-1404-DR-245
Domestic relation. Reverses trial court and remands with instructions to apply the incapacity maintenance statute’s “substantial and continuing change in circumstances” standard to the evidence presented at the modification hearing. Any maintenance provision in a settlement agreement, regardless of its grounds, is modifiable only if the agreement so provides. The agreement in this matter contains such a provision.
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Opinions Sept. 9, 2014

September 9, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Robert O. Hedrick v. Angela R. Gilbert
47A01-1401-DR-1
Domestic relation. Affirmed in part, reversed in part. Affirms denial of Hedrick’s motion to modify support for post-secondary educational expenses and affirms order of contempt and $500 fine issued to Hedrick for failing to abide by prior court rulings. Reverses the award to Gilbert of $1,000 in attorney fees as part of the contempt order, ruling that the trial court did not make findings that Hedrick’s petition to modify was frivolous, unreasonable or groundless.
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Opinions Sept. 8, 2014

September 8, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Inc., Save the Valley, Inc., Sierra Club, and Valley Watch, Inc. v. Duke Energy Indiana, Inc., Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
93A02-1305-EX-394
Agency action. Remands to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission its order approving Duke’s request to include power plant construction costs of the Edwardsport coal-gasification plant from Oct. 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012, in a rate adjustment rider. Remands for findings as to whether a delay was chargeable to Duke and, if so, what impact the delay had on Duke’s customers’ rates. Also remands for a clear statement of the policy and evidentiary considerations underlying IURC’s determination that 50 percent of the plant was deemed in-service.
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Opinions Sept. 5, 2014

September 5, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Marilyn Rae Baskin v. Penny Bogan
14-2386
Midori Fujii v. Commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health
14-2387
Pamela Lee v. Brian Abbott
14-2388
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Chief Judge Richard Young
Civil. Affirms District Court judgment invalidating and enjoining Indiana and Wisconsin prohibitions on same-sex marriage. The 7th Circuit consolidated the three same-sex marriage cases from Indiana into one opinion with the single case from Wisconsin, Wolf et al. v. Walker, et al., 14:2526. The court confined its ruling to the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and did not address the plaintiffs’ due process arguments. Rejects Indiana’s responsible procreation argument, finding Indiana’s prohibition on same-sex marriage discriminates against gays and lesbians.
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Opinions Sept. 4, 2014

September 4, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
TP Orthodontics, Inc., Christopher Kesling, DDS, MS, Adam Kesling, and Emily Kesling, et al. v. Andrew Kesling, Individually and as Trustee of the Andrew C. Kesling Trust Dated March 28, 2001 et al.
46S03-1405-MI-337
Miscellaneous. Finds the trial court abused its discretion in ordering disclosure of the full special litigation committee report, as portions of it containing privileged information cannot be disclosed to the sibling shareholders. Remands to the trial court to conduct an in camera review of the full report to determine whether the designate material is in fact privileged.
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Opinions Sept. 3, 2014

September 3, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Natural Resources Defense Council v. Poet Biorefining- North Manchester, LLC, Poet Biorefining- Cloverdale, LLC, Central Indiana Ethanol, Inc., et al.
49S02-1405-MI-313
Miscellaneous. IDEM was not required to formally amend Indiana’s state implementation plan with the EPA to effectuate its change in how it interprets the regulatory phrase “chemical process plant.” IDEM’s interpretation to exclude fuel ethanol plants under the definition of “chemical process plant” is legally permissible.
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Opinions Sept. 2, 2014

September 2, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
James M. Sweeney, et al. v. Gov. Michael Pence, et al.
13-1264
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Chief Judge Philip P. Simon.
Civil. Affirms dismissal of union’s lawsuit arguing the Right to Work Act violates union members’ rights under the U.S. Constitution and is preempted by federal labor legislation. The legislation is not preempted by the scheme of federal labor law and does not violate any constitutional rights. Judge Tinder for the majority writes that the controversy of the law needs to be addressed legislatively, not through the courts. Chief Judge Wood dissents.
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Opinions Aug. 29, 2014

August 29, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
C.H. v. State of Indiana
49A02-1310-JV-904
Juvenile. Affirms officer’s stop of C.H. because he was believed to be a suspect in a crime and the order of restitution because C.H. never objected to the order he pay restitution. Reverses adjudication of what would be Class B misdemeanor unlawful entry of a motor vehicle because the same evidence was used to adjudicate C.H. of that charge and what would be Class A misdemeanor trespass. Remands for further proceedings.
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Opinions Aug. 28, 2014

August 28, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Nightingale Home Healthcare, Inc. v. Carey Helmuth and Physiocare Home Healthcare, LLC
29A04-1403-PL-121
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Helmuth and Physiocare Home Healthcare LLC, in which the trial court concluded that Helmuth’s 10-day break in employment with Nightingale served as the starting point of his limited non-competition and non-disclosure agreement.
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Opinions Aug. 27, 2014

August 27, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Kenneth Owen Scrogham v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security
13-3601
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Civil. Reverses denial of application for disability benefits and remands for further proceedings. The administrative law judge’s methodology was flawed in several respects. Three logical errors – overstating the significance of Scrogham’s daily activities, overreliance on his rehabilitative efforts as proof of his fitness for full-time work, and misinterpreting the significance of his extensive treatment – had a material effect on the ALJ’s credibility and residual functional capacity assessments.
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Opinions Aug. 26, 2014

August 26, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Roy Smith v. Richard Brown
12-3731
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division.
Judge James T. Moody
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Smith’s habeas petition. Finds although Smith’s counsel appeared to be particularly deficient, Smith failed to demonstrate how his lawyer’s substandard effort prejudiced his case since there was overwhelming evidence against him.

 
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Opinions Aug. 25, 2014

August 25, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Indiana Department of State Revenue v. Caterpillar, Inc.
49S10-1402-TA-79
Tax. Reverses judgment of the Indiana Tax Court in favor of Caterpillar, holding the company may not deduct foreign-source dividend income when calculating net operating losses based on plain statutory meaning. Caterpillar also did not meet its burden to prove the conclusion violated the Foreign Commerce Clause. Remands to the Tax Court with instructions to grant summary judgment in favor of the Department of Revenue.
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Opinions Aug. 22, 2014

August 22, 2014
Indiana Tax Court
Indianapolis Racquet Club, Inc. v. Marion County Assessor
49T10-1201-TA-1
Property tax. Affirms Indiana Board of Tax Review finding that Indianapolis Racquet Club Inc. failed to establish a prima facie case that its 2002 assessments were excessive or that they were not uniform and equal.
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Opinions Aug. 21, 2014

August 21, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
James S. Littrell v. State of Indiana
79A02-1401-CR-24
Criminal.  Affirms conviction of Class B felony possession of cocaine. Finds Littrell’s right to a fast and speedy trial was not violated, the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction, and his sentence is appropriate. Remands for the sole purpose of correcting a typographical error in the guilty plea and sentencing orders.
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Opinions Aug. 20, 2014

August 20, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Goodrich Quality Theaters, Inc. and Roncelli, Inc. v. Fostcorp Heating and Cooling, Inc., Wilson Iron Works, Inc., Johnson Carpet, Inc., d/b/a Johnson Commercial Interiors
64A03-1308-PL-318
Civil plenary. Affirms ruling in favor of Fostcorp Heating and Cooling and other appellees on various breach of contract claims and foreclosure of mechanic’s liens stemming from the construction of a movie theatre. Roncelli’s appeal was timely filed and the judgments are supported by the findings. It was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to award attorney fees, so reverses those fees in favor of the appellees.
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Opinions Aug. 19, 2014

August 19, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Adoption of M.H., W.M. & S.K. v. N.B. & R.B.
82A01-1310-AD-449
Adoption.  Affirms order denying W.M. and S.K.’s petition for adoption of M.H. and granting the petition of adoption filed by R.B. and N.B. The appellants did not overcome the presumption that the judge acted impartially when he ruled in favor of N.B. and R.B. The judge received an email from a former fraternity brother in favor of the adoptive family, but he refused to recuse himself in the case because he said he would not consider the person’s argument, stopped reading the email quickly, and had not recently socialized or interacted with the fraternity brother. Finds evidence supports adoption by N.B. and R.B. in the best interests of the child.
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Opinions Aug. 18, 2014

August 18, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Linda D. McIntire, and those similarly situated v. Franklin Township Community School Corporation
49A02-1401-PL-2
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the school corporation on McIntire’s lawsuit challenging certain fees charged to students in high school. The trial court erred in concluding her claim was subject to the notice requirements of the Indiana Tort Claims Act, but affirms because McIntire may not maintain a claim for monetary damages under Article I, Section 8 of the Indiana Constitution.
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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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