Opinions

Opinions Aug. 15, 2014

August 15, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Randall Ray Fletcher Jr.
12-3104
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen.
Criminal. Affirms 30-year sentence in prison plus a lifetime of supervised release following a guilty plea to five counts involving child pornography that occurred over a seven-year period. Because his crimes spanned a range of years during which the guidelines for child pornography offenses underwent significant changes, his sentencing posed complex calculations and raised potential constitutional problems. Any errors the court made in calculating the guidelines sentence for Fletcher were harmless.
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Opinions Aug. 14, 2014

August 14, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Elliott D. Levin, as trustee in bankruptcy for Irwin Financial Corp. v. William I. Miller, et al.
12-3474
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Affirms dismissal with respects to counts 1, 2, 4 and 5 that claim bank managers violated their fiduciary duties to Irwin because those claims are now owned by the FDIC.  Vacates dismissal of counts 3 – that managers allowed Irwin to pay dividends in amounts that left it short of capital - and 7 – that two of the managers breach their duties of care and loyalty – and and remands for further proceedings because those claims are categorized as direct claims that must be pursued by the bank, not the FDIC. Judge Hamilton concurs in result.
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Opinions Aug. 13, 2014

August 13, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Joshua Gomillia v. State of Indiana
49S02-1408-CR-521
Criminal. Affirms total executed sentence of 40 years imposed following a plea agreement to one count of Class A felony criminal deviate conduct and one count of Class B felony robbery. The nature and circumstances of the crime included the trial court’s discussion of the leadership role Gomillia played in the commission of the offenses, as well as the terror the victim suffered. Both are appropriate reasons justifying a sentence greater than the advisory term.
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Opinions Aug.12, 2014

August 12, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In re the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of C.A., L.A., and M.A. (Minor Children) and B.A. (Mother) and J.A. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services
55A04-1401-JT-37
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights for mother and father to their three minor children following father’s conviction of Class B felony dealing methamphetamine and mother’s conviction of Class D felony neglect of a dependent. While mother neither received nor signed a case plan negotiated with the Department of Child Services, the record shows mother didn’t lack knowledge of what she needed to do to get her children back, but rather she didn’t participate. Evidence also was sufficient to support termination of mother’s and father’s parental rights.
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Opinions Aug. 11, 2014

August 11, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Dwight Hayes v. State of Indiana
49A04-1312-CR-619
Criminal. Affirms conviction for Class A misdemeanor pointing a firearm. Finds the trial court properly rejected Hayes’ proposed jury instructions based on Indiana’s stand-your-ground law because there was no evidence that his property was being attacked when he pointed two handguns at a woman trying to serve him with legal documents.
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Opinions Aug. 8, 2014

August 8, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Geico Insurance Company, as subrogee of Ralph Heitkamp v. Dianna Graham
49A02-1310-CT-898
Civil tort. Affirms order setting aside summary judgment in favor of Geico on grounds that its claim in Marion Superior Court is barred by the doctrine of res judicata because it is derivative of a judgment in St. Joseph County in favor of Graham. 
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Opinions Aug. 7, 2014

August 7, 2014
Indiana Tax Court
Howard County Assessor v. Kokomo Mall, LLC
49T10-1109-TA-56
Tax. Affirms the final determination of the Indiana Board of Tax Review that reduced Kokomo Mall LLC’s commercial property assessments for the 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax years. Court declines to reweigh the evidence presented to the board and rejects the assessor’s claim that the mere presentation of a USPAP appraisal establishes a prima facie case.
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Opinions Aug. 6, 2014

August 6, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Kevin Davis v. State of Indiana
49A05-1310-CR-523
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. L.H.’s statements to police identifying Davis as participating in the beating and robbery were properly admitted, the trial court did not err when it determined two witnesses had made themselves unavailable and therefore allowed their depositions to be admitted into evidence at trial, and there is sufficient evidence supporting the conviction.
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Opinions Aug. 5, 2014

August 5, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Marilyn R. Boley v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security
13-1252
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division. Chief Judge Richard L. Young.
Civil. Vacates District Court’s dismissal of Boley’s petition for judicial review of the decision by an administrative law judge that denied her request for a hearing on the denial of benefits. Remands with instructions to decide whether substantial evidence and appropriate procedures underlie the decision that she lacks “good cause” for her delay in seeking intra-agency review. Overrules Watters v. Harris, 656 F. 2d 234 (7th Cir. 1980).
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Opinions Aug. 4, 2014

August 4, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Bruce Carneil Webster v. John F. Caraway, Warden, United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute
14-1049
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division. Judge William T. Lawrence.
Civil. Affirms dismissal of Webster’s petition for collateral relief under 28 U.S.C. Section 2241. Agrees with District Court’s decision that the petition is blocked by Section 2255(e), under which Webster had previously sought collateral relief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the circuit where he had committed his crime.

Indiana Court of Appeals
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Opinions Aug. 1, 2014

August 1, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Constantino Cejas and Nicholas Ceja
12-3896 & 13-1034
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson
Criminal. Affirms brothers’ convictions for conspiring to distribute drugs, possessing and distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine and possessing a firearm to further their drug activity. Also affirms Constantino’s sentence of 480 months imprisonment. Rules the video taken outside the home where the drug deal occurred was properly authenticated and was not barred by Federal Rule of Evidence 403. Finds there was sufficient evidence to convict Nicholas for possession with intent to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine. Finally, concludes Constantino’s second firearm possession conviction did not violate double jeopardy and congressional intent.
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Opinions July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
William T. Calvert v. State of Indiana
32A01-1312-CR-535
Criminal. Reversed conviction of illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor, a Class C misdemeanor. Rules the trial court should have granted a continuance rather than try Calvert in absentia. Calvert, a private in the U.S. Army, was denied his constitutional right to be present at his trial because he was on deployment in Afghanistan when his hearing was held. Remands for a new trial.
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Opinions July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Bartholomew County, Indiana v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, and Robert L. Amos
93A02-1311-EX-986
Agency action. Affirms administrative law judge’s determination that Robert Amos was entitled to unemployment benefits after he was discharged for playfully shooting another participant with a nonlethal bullet after a training exercise. The review board did not err in finding that the merit board unevenly applied rules to the class of other officers who had playfully shot others in training exercises, Amos was not collaterally estopped from contesting the merit board determination that he was fired for cause, and the administrative law judge did not abuse discretion by denying the county’s request to submit the transcript of the merit board hearing as additional evidence.
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Opinions July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Ryan E. Bean v. State of Indiana
91A02-1310-CR-912
Criminal. Reverses conviction of Class A felony child molesting. Finds Bean was denied a fair trial because of fundamental error. Testimony from the victim’s mother and an Indiana Department of Child Services investigator impermissibly vouched for the victim’s credibility and invaded the province of the jury to determine the validity of the witness’s statements. The prosecutor reinforced this vouching testimony in his closing arguments. Also, the prosecutor committed misconduct when he asked the county sheriff about the process for investigating child molesting allegations in general. The sheriff’s testimony left the jurors wondering what Bean told police and, therefore, penalized the defendant for invoking his right to counsel.
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Opinions July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Bobby Alexander v. State of Indiana
49A04-1207-CR-351
Criminal. Reverse one of two convictions for Class B felony aggravated battery. Rules the state incorrectly asserted in the charging information and during closing arguments that Alexander’s actions of shooting at a car created a substantial risk of death. Remands with instructions to enter judgment of conviction for battery as a Class C felony and to resentence accordingly.
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Opinions July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Chris T. Collins v. State of Indiana
49A02-1310-PC-887
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief, concluding that the post-conviction court’s denial of Collins’ request of subpoenas was not an abuse of discretion and that denial of his petition was proper.
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Opinions July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Larry A. Jones v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A04-1312-CR-627
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony dealing in cocaine.
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Opinions July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Willie L. Montgomery v. State of Indiana
82A05-1401-CR-34
Criminal. On interlocutory appeal, rejects Montgomery’s challenge of the denial of his motion to dismiss a charge of failure to register as a sex or violent offender in Vanderburgh County because he has already been prosecuted for failing to register in Pike County. The charge in question is not barred under I.C. 35-34-1-4(a)(7) and does not violate double jeopardy principles. Remands for trial.
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Opinions July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Kenyatta Erkins v. State of Indiana
58S01-1309-CR-586
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony conspiracy to commit robbery resulting in serious bodily injury. Presents first impression issue of whether the state must establish the existence of serious bodily injury for Erkins’ conviction to stand. Because conspiracy is a crime consisting of intent to commit an underlying crime, an agreement between or among conspirators to commit the underlying crime, and an overt act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the agreement, the state needed only to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt to support his conviction. Justice Rucker concurs in part and dissents in part to which Chief Justice Dickson joins.
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Opinions July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Donella Locke
11-3743
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Larry J. McKinney.
Criminal. Affirms Locke’s sentence of 57 months in prison, three years of supervised release and order she pay more than $340,000 in restitution to lenders for her role in a real estate fraud scheme. Locke argued the District Court erred when it failed to reduce the loss amount incurred as a result of her convicted conduct by the amounts the victims received when they sold the real estate that secured the fraudulently obtained loans, but she waived this issue.
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Opinions July 18, 2014

July 18, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In re: The Visitation of A.W., J.W. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A03-1401-MI-3
Miscellaneous. Dismisses denial of mother’s motion to correct error.
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Opinions July 17, 2014

July 17, 2014
The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was posted after IL deadline Wednesday:
United States of America v. Lorenzo Mosley
13-3184
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge James T. Moody.
Criminal. Affirms revocation of Mosley’s supervised release after judge found Mosley had committed the alleged violations, which included dealing cocaine, and sentence to 21 months in prison. The District Court erred in admitting a hearsay statement without finding there was “good cause,” but the error was harmless.
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Opinions July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Martin J. Jonassen
13-1410
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge James T. Mood.
Criminal. Affirms convictions and sentence for kidnapping and obstruction of justice. The District Court properly declined to conduct a competency hearing. Although Jonassen asserted bizarre legal theories based on his claim of “sovereign citizenship,” that alone does not provide a reason to doubt his competence to stand trial, and the record does not otherwise suggest that he lacked the ability to understand the proceedings. The court’s evidentiary ruling was also sound. The government laid an ample foundation for admission of the hearsay statements under Rule 804(b)(6); the evidence established that Jonassen used bribery, guilt and various forms of psychological intimidation to procure his daughter’s unavailability. Finally, because he did not request Jencks Act material before the close of trial, his claim for relief under the Act necessarily fails.
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Opinions July 15, 2014

July 15, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Antonio L. Vaughn v. State of Indiana
84A01-1302-CR-57
Criminal. Affirmed Vaughn’s conviction and 40-year aggregate sentence for two counts of dealing in cocaine, each as a Class A felony, and one count of maintaining a common nuisance, a Class D felony. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of the controlled buys, statements of the confidential information and the cocaine. Also finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion in instructing the jury. Rules the evidence was sufficient to support Vaughn’s convictions. Holds the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it sentenced Vaughn but it made a clerical error on the sentencing order. Remanded to the trial court to correct error to reflect that Vaughn was sentenced for maintaining a common nuisance conviction to three years, not three-and-a-half years.
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Opinions July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Center for Inquiry, Inc., and Reba Boyd Wooden v. Marion Circuit Court Clerk and Marion County Prosecutor
12-3751
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Reverses the denial of an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the marriage solemnization statute. Rules Indiana’s statute that prohibits officials of secular groups such as humanist societies from solemnizing marriages violates the First Amendment and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
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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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