Opinions

Opinions July 2, 2015

July 2, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
The following opinions were issued after IL deadline Wednesday.

U.S.A. v. Willie J. Harris
14-1846
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge Philip P. Simon
Criminal. Affirms convictions of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud with identification documents, production and trafficking in counterfeit devices, and aggravated identity theft. Finds a notebook taken from Harris’ truck was admissible at trial and the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions. Also finds the District Court did not err in applying sentencing enhancements.
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Opinions 7/1/15

July 1, 2015

7th Circuit Court of Appeals
The following opinion was issued after IL deadline Tuesday.
David Lawson v. Sun Microsystems, Inc.
13-1502 and 13-1503
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Chief Judge Richard Young
Civil. Reverses jury award to Lawson for $1.5 million and remands with instructions to enter judgment for Sun Microsystems. Finds the employee compensation plan that was instituted when Sun acquired StorageTek Inc., is unambiguous and Lawson is not entitled to the jury award of $1.5 million.

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Opinions June 30, 2015

June 30, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Richard Bell v. Cameron Taylor
14-3099
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Civil. Dismisses interlocutory appeal for lack of jurisdiction and remands to the District Court for resolution of outstanding issues. The 7th Circuit had no jurisdiction because Bell’s suit was still alive even though partial summary judgment had been granted.
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Opinions: 6/29/2015

June 29, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Larry D. Russell, Jr. v. State of Indiana
84S01-1409-CR-583
Criminal. Affirms 10-year sentence for conviction of five counts of Class C felony neglect of a dependent and two counts of Class C felony criminal confinement. Despite an erroneous application of a particular section of Indiana Code on a perceived statutory cap on sentencing, the plea agreement is enforceable because Russell received the benefit of the bargain and there is no compelling reason to set aside the conviction, the majority held. Chief Justice Loretta Rush concurred in result only. Justice Mark Massa dissented, finding that the trial court’s acceptance of a plea agreement based on an error of law amounted to an abuse of discretion.

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Opinions June 26, 2015

June 26, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Renato DeBartolo v. United States of America
14-3579
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller.
Reverses denial of a petition for relief from a removal order resulting in the deportation of DeBartolo to Italy. The panel held that the failure of DeBartolo’s attorney to inform him that pleading guilty to a drug charge could result in deportation proceedings was ineffective assistance of counsel.
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Opinions June 25, 2015

June 25, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Pascal Sylla
14-2813
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Criminal. Affirms 2013 conviction of attempted bank robbery stemming from an attempted robbery in 2003. Sylla’s DNA was matched to the crime scene in 2010, thus making his conviction not outside the statute of limitations.
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Opinions June 24, 2015

June 24, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of: Bradley D. Hamilton
49S00-1412-DI-752
Discipline. Disbars Hamilton for abandoning his law practice and clients, stealing their money, and fleeing to Australia. Finds he violated eight rules of Professional Conduct.
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Opinions June 23, 2015

June 23, 2015
The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was posted after IL deadline:
John W. Perotti v. Diane Quinones and Billie Kelsheimer
14-229
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson.
Civil. Affirms District Court’s denial of Perotti’s petition of habeas corpus ad testificandum and arrangement for him to participate in his alleged retaliation trial by video conferencing. The decision did not disadvantage him, and the judge did everything she could to make sure that Perotti saw as much of the trial proceeding and its participants as was possible.
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COA split over whether officer had suspicion suspect was armed

June 23, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
An Indiana Court of Appeals panel was split Tuesday as to whether a man’s firearm conviction should be affirmed.
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Opinions June 22, 2105

June 22, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
K.K. v. State of Indiana
49A02-1410-JV-687
Juvenile. Affirms adjudication as delinquent for having committed the offense of dangerous possession of a firearm, a Class A misdemeanor if committed by an adult. The odor of burnt marijuana emanating from a vehicle K.K. was a passenger in provided probable cause for officers to arrest the car’s three occupants, such that the loaded handgun found during the search of K.K. was properly admitted into evidence.
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Opinions June 19, 2015

June 19, 2015
The following Indiana Tax Court opinion was posted after IL deadline Thursday:
Muir Woods, Inc. v. Joseph P. O'Connor, Assessor of Marion County
49T10-1302-TA-38
Tax. Affirms dismissal by the Indiana Board of Tax Review of Muir Woods Inc.’s Petitions for correction of an error (Forms 133) because the forms’ alleged errors are not correctable under that appeal procedure. Finds that the Indiana Board acted within the scope of its authority and that Muir Woods did not raise a claim cognizable using the Form 133 appeal procedure.
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Opinions June 18, 2015

June 18, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
I-465, LLC v. Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals Division II of Marion County, Indiana, Jeffrey R. Baumgarth and The Myers Y. Cooper Company
49A05-1409-PL-403
Civil plenary. Affirms decision by the Marion County Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals approving a request for a property-use variance by Jeffrey R. Baumgarth and Myers Y. Cooper Co. The BZA’s decision to grant the variance was based upon its determination that Myers Cooper had established the five elements required to justify a variance, and its decision was supported by adequate findings, which in turn were supported by the evidence, and therefore not clearly erroneous.
 
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Opinions June 17, 2015

June 17, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Robert Lewis III v. State of Indiana
45S00-1312-LW-512
Life without parole. Affirms Lewis’ convictions of murder, murder in the perpetration of criminal deviate conduct, criminal deviate conduct and resisting law enforcement, but reverses the sentence of life without possibility of parole because the trial court’s sentencing order did not contain a personal conclusion that life without possibility of parole is the appropriate sentence for Lewis. Remands for a revised sentencing order.
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Opinions June 16, 2015

June 16, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Joan Strozewski v. James Strozewski
29A02-1412-DR-885
Domestic. Affirms on interlocutory appeal trial court denial of Joan Strozewski’s motion to transfer the case to St. Joseph County. Because Hamilton County is a preferred venue for a dissolution action, change of venue cannot be granted, and the trial court did not err in denying the motion to transfer venue.
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Opinions June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Marc Shell v. Kevin Smith, in his official capacity as Mayor of the City of Anderson, et al.
14-2958
Civil. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Anderson defendants and remands Shell’s Americans with Disabilities Act claim for proceedings in the District Court. Shell, a mechanic’s helper in the City of Anderson Transit System, claimed his firing after a change of city administration violated his rights under the ADA because he’d held the position for 12 years. He was unable to obtain a commercial driver’s license due to hearing and vision impairment and was fired after a new administrator enforced a job description requirement that he obtain a CDL. Because of evidence and reasonable inferences favorable to both parties, summary judgment was inappropriate.
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Opinions June 12, 2015

June 12, 2015

Indiana Supreme Court
The following opinion was issued after IL deadline Thursday.
In the Matter of the Adoption of Minor Children: I.B. and W.B.: B.B. v. B.C. and J.L., and Indiana Department of Child Services
82S05-1502-AD-63
Adoption. Reverses trial court adoption petition in favor of maternal grandmother B.C. that had been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Justices overturned a COA ruling that I.C. § 31-19-11-1(c)(15), which disqualifies certain felons from adoption, is unconstitutional. The law is constitutional because its prohibitions are rationally related to the classifications they draw, the court ruled. The case is remanded to the trial court to reconsider the petition in view of the absolute statutory bar to B.C. adopting.

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Opinions June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Michael R. Bixeman and Doreen Bixeman v. Hunter's Run Homeowners Association of St. John, Inc.
45A03-1411-PL-406
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court ruling that the sanction imposed by Hunter’s Run on the Bixemans’ was invalid because the homeowners association did not give the couple the required 10 days notice as outlined in the homeowners’ covenants. Reverses denial of the Bixemans’ claim of slander of title because Hunter’s Run knew the lien placed on their home was invalid but refused to release it. Remands for determination whether the couple was damaged by the slander of title, and if so, to what extent, as well as to enter findings on attorney fees.
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Opinions June 10, 2015

June 10, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Michael A. Miller v. St. Joseph County, et al.
14-2989

U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. Judge Rudy Lozano.
Civil. Affirms dismissal of Miller’s lawsuit claiming he had been discriminated against because he’s African-American. There is no evidence that the denial of his requests to fill two spots considered promotions were based on his race and he always retained his status as sergeant and same pay and benefits when he began working in the property room.
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Opinions June 9, 2015

June 9, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Kimberly S. Earl and the Estate of Jerry Earl
35S05-1408-CT-562
Civil tort. Affirms admission of Jerry Earl’s uninsured motorist policy limits into evidence at a trial involving State Farm, finding no error given the substantial evidence and correct jury instructions. Declines to create a bright-line rule involving the admission of coverage limits at trial.
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Opinions June 8, 2015

June 8, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jake Gruber, Jill Sherman, & Jake Gruber b/n/f Jill Sherman v. YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, Ruth Lilly YMCA Outdoor Center, & Flat Rock River YMCA Resident Camp

49A02-1410-CT-713
Civil tort. Affirms trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of YMCA defendants in a suit brought by the parents of a child bitten by a pig at a camp. The panel declined to change the standard to strict liability for owners of animals from the general rule that owners of domestic animals are liable only if the owner knows or has reason to know that the animal has dangerous propensities.
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Opinions June 5, 2015

June 5, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
Bertram A. Graves, M.D. v. Indiana University Health, f/k/a Clarian Health Partners, Inc., Richard Kovacs, M.D., and Edward Ross, M.D.
49A05-1412-PL-560 
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment for IU Health defendants in a breach-of-contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress lawsuit brought by a cardiologist whose privileges were revoked. The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment and the court did not abuse its discretion in denying Graves’ motion to compel and in striking parts of his affidavit.
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Opinions June 4, 2015

June 4, 2015
Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of, M.W., (Minor Child) and, J.W., (Mother) v. The Ind. Dept. of Child Services
82A01-1410-JT-456
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the mother’s motion for a continuance of the termination of the parental rights hearing.
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Opinions June 3, 2015

June 3, 2015
Indiana Supreme Court
Jason and Justina Kramer v. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc.
71S03-1506-CT-350
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment for Catholic Charities on the Kramers’ lawsuit alleging negligence after the baby they adopted through the agency was returned to her father eight months later after he contested the adoption. The Kramers failed to demonstrate that Catholic Charities had any duties with respect to the putative father registry in excess of its statutory obligation. Justice Dickson dissents with separate opinion.
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Opinions June 2, 2015

June 2, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Tommy R. Pruitt v. Ron Neal, Superintendent, Indiana State Prison
13-1880
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
Post conviction. Reverses death sentence for Tommy Pruitt, convicted of murder for killing Morgan County Deputy Sheriff Daniel Starnes in 2001. Pruitt has established that he is intellectually disabled and categorically ineligible for the death penalty and that trial counsel were ineffective in their investigation and presentation of evidence that Pruitt suffered from schizophrenia. Remands for new penalty-phase proceeding.
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Opinions June 1, 2015

June 1, 2015
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Shane Kervin v. La Clair Barnes, et al.
14-2983
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge James T. Moody. Affirms dismissal of Kervin’s 42 U.S.C. § 1983 suit alleging that as a prisoner, his rights were violated when he was placed in solitary confinement and denied privileges as punishment for complaining about a delay in being allowed to see his attorney. The court ruled Kervin’s backtalk to guards was the basis for his punishment, which was neither “atypical,” “significant,” nor “a dramatic departure from the basic conditions” of his sentence as required for such claims under Sandin v. Conner, 515 U.S. 472, 484-85 (1995).

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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