Opinions

Opinions Dec. 5, 2012

December 5, 2012
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Gregory Wolfe
11-3281
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge Rudy Lozano.
Criminal. Affirms convictions of bank theft and interstate transportation of stolen goods for Wolfe’s role in a copper theft scheme and his 88-month sentence, followed by concurrent three-year terms of supervised release, and order of more than $3 million in restitution. Wolfe argued that he was deprived of a fair trial because of statements the prosecutor made during closing argument. He also challenged the sentence and restitution order. Wolfe’s contentions lack merit.
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Opinions Dec. 4, 2012

December 4, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jerry Vanzyll v. State of Indiana
34A02-1111-CR-1050
Criminal. Affirms in part, reverses in part and remands to the trial court convictions of Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine, Class D felonies of possession of meth and possession of chemical reagents or precursors with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. The court affirmed the drug convictions but ordered the resisting conviction vacated because it held there was insufficient evidence to prove that Vanzyll fled.
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Opinions Dec. 3, 2012

December 3, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
State of Indiana v. Terry J. Hough
64A05-1203-MI-113
Criminal. Affirms trial court’s grant of a petition that Hough’s name be removed from the Indiana Sex Offender Registry, holding that requiring him to register for a Pennsylvania rape committed before the establishment of the registry would violate the Indiana Constitution’s prohibition of ex post facto laws.
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Opinions Nov. 30, 2012

November 30, 2012
Indiana Supreme Court
State of Indiana Ex Rel., Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission v. Derek A. Farmer
94S00-1103-MS-165
Attorney discipline. Rejected petition to enjoin unauthorized practice of law, holding that the Disciplinary Commission failed to prove that Farmer had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, and failed to convince the court that Farmer could not have reasonably expected to be authorized for temporary admission due to a pending disciplinary proceeding.
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Opinions Nov. 29, 2012

November 29, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Terry and Laura Wagler, Larry and Jennifer Wagler, Norman Wagler, and Janet and Nathan Wagler v. West Boggs Sewer District Inc.
14A01-1109-PL-427
Civil plenary. Affirms denial of the Waglers’ motions for relief from judgment pursuant to Ind. Trial Rule 60(B), and that the court did not err in directing Janet and Nathan Wagler to connect to the sewer system. Denies West Boggs’ request for appellate attorney fees.
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Opinions Nov. 28, 2012

November 28, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Richard Thomas v. Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles
64A03-1204-PL-191
Civil plenary. Affirms suspension of Thomas’ driving privileges for 10 years due to qualifying as a habitual traffic violator. The BMV timely notified Thomas that he qualified as a habitual traffic violator and the doctrine of laches is not applicable to the instant matter.
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Opinions Nov. 27, 2012

November 27, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Kirstan Haub, d/b/a American Handyman Service v. Jenny Eldridge
10A01-1203-PL-107
Civil plenary. Reverses denial of Haub’s motion for summary judgment against Eldridge. The trial court erred in considering parol evidence, and the release unambiguously releases Haub from any and all claims that Eldridge may have had against him on or before Oct. 8, 2010. Orders trial court to enter summary judgment in favor of Haub.
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Opinions Nov. 26, 2012

November 26, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of B.W. and C.W. (Minor Children); J.W. (Mother) B.W. (Father) v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
33A04-1206-JT-289
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.
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Opinions Nov. 21, 2012

November 21, 2012
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. William Hagler
11-2984
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Judge William C. Lee.
Criminal. Affirms conviction of attempted bank robbery. Hagler argued that the government waited too long to indict him, that the evidence was insufficient to convict him, and that new DNA testing entitles him to a new trial.
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Opinions Nov. 20, 2012

November 20, 2012
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Lincoln Plowman
11-3781
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Larry J. McKinney.
Criminal. Affirms Plowman’s convictions of federal funds bribery and attempted extortion under color of official right. The District Court did not err when it precluded him from arguing entrapment to the jury.
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Opinions Nov. 19, 2012

November 19, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Dr. Norma Kreilein, Rock Emmert, and Healthy Dubois County, Inc. v. Common Council of the City of Jasper and Jasper Utility Board
19A04-1201-MI-51
Miscellaneous/Open Door Law. Reverses trial court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motion to amend complaint, continue trial and compel discovery, and remands for a new trial. The court held that plaintiffs were diligent in pursing discovery but were thwarted for months by Jasper’s refusal to cooperate.
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Opinions Nov. 16, 2012

November 16, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Marybeth Lebo v. State of Indiana
46A05-1202-CR-104
Criminal. Affirms trial court’s judgment in denying motion to dismiss charges of failure to report child abuse or neglect. Lebo argued the charges were not permissible because they came after the statute of limitations had passed but the COA disagreed, finding the Legislature’s intent was to make the failure to report a continuing offense. Otherwise, the court stated, the duty to report would be limited to the day on which the individual comes to believe abuse is taking place.
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Opinions Nov. 15, 2012

November 15, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Derek Asklar and Pauline Asklar v. David Gilb, Paul Garrett Smith d/b/a P.H. One Trucking, Empire Fire and Marine Ins. Co., d/b/a Zurich; Travelers Ideminity Co. of America
02A03-1204-CT-170
Civil tort/insurance. Affirms in part and reverses in part the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Empire, holding that Indiana law rather than Georgia law should apply in the case, but determining that Empire’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limit is still only $75,000, as the trial court ruled.
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Opinions Nov. 14, 2012

November 14, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
John Fox v. Nichter Construction Co., Inc.
03A01-1202-SC-52
Small claims/wages. Affirms in part, reverses in part and remands in part the dismissal of Fox’s wage claim with prejudice and orders the court to enter a dismissal of the claim with prejudice. A divided appeals court held that the trial court erred in dismissing the complaint because it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because Fox had pursued his claim through the Department of Labor under the Wage Claim statute before filing suit. The appeals court ordered the trial court to dismiss the case without prejudice for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, including the failure to name the real party in interest. Fox may refile his claim setting forth the reassignment by the Department of Labor.
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Opinions Nov. 13, 2012

November 13, 2012
Indiana Supreme Court
D.C. v. J.A.C.
32S04-1206-DR-349
Domestic relation/modification of custody. Reverses Court of Appeals ruling that overturned a trial court modification of a custody order in favor of a child’s father. In a case involving a mother who was moving out of state, the Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred by failing to apply a highly deferential standard of review to the trial court’s determination of a custody modification based on testimony regarding the best interests of the child.
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Opinions Nov. 9, 2012

November 9, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Amerisafe Risk Services, Inc., and Leerae Riggs v. The Estate of Hazel D. Wadsack, deceased, by Ronald J. Wadsack as Personal Rep., and Ronald J. Wadsack, individually
88A01-1204-CT-144
Civil tort. Reverses trial court denial of plaintiff’s request for dismissal, holding that the court lacked jurisdiction in the case. The estate of an injured worker’s mother sued the worker’s compensation insurer, claiming that the mother died as a result of emotional distress over the insurer’s handling of her son’s claim. The appeals court held that the Wadsacks had not exhausted appeals through the Worker’s Compensation Board, which the court determined had proper jurisdiction because the Wadsacks’ claim was derivative of their son’s claims for benefits.
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Opinions Nov. 8, 2012

November 8, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Jerome Michael Burton v. State of Indiana
45A03-1201-CR-6
Criminal. Reverses denial of motion to dismiss the charge of failure to register as a sex offender. Remands with instructions. Wallace applies and the ex post facto provision of the Indiana Constitution prevents the application of Indiana’s Sex Offender Registry Act to require Burton, a resident of Indiana, to register as a sex offender for an offense committed in Illinois in 1987.
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Opinions Nov. 7, 2012

November 7, 2012
Indiana Supreme Court
Michael Kucholick v. State of Indiana
12S02-1211-CR-630
Criminal. Justices grant transfer and order Kucholick’s sentence for Class C felony criminal recklessness and Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief revised to the advisory term of four years, all executed. Summarily affirms Court of Appeals decision in all respects. Chief Justice Dickson dissents, believing the trial court’s sentence of seven years should be affirmed.
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Opinions Nov. 6, 2012

November 6, 2012
Indiana Supreme Court
State of Indiana v. Elvis Holtsclaw

49S02-1205-CR-264
Criminal. Reverses dismissal of state’s notice of appeal and remands to the Court of Appeals for consideration of its merits, holding that the appeal is timely under Appellate Rule 9.
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Opinions Nov. 5, 2012

November 5, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Steven E. Miles, a/k/a Robert Dutcher v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1204-PC-310
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.
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Opinions Nov. 2, 2012

November 2, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Joshua A. Bostic v. State of Indiana
12A02-1202-CR-154
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Cass C felony attempted battery by means of a deadly weapon and criminal recklessness; Class D felony arson; Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief; and Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief, holding that Bostic waived his right to appeal under Criminal Rule 4(C) by failing to object to trial delays before the trial court. The court also found he likewise waived his right to appeal the process for appointing a special judge. Remands to the trial court to correct the sentencing order, abstract of judgment, and chronological case summary to reflect that Bostic’s 12-year habitual offender enhancement is an enhancement to his sentence for felony criminal recklessness, and not a separate conviction.
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Opinions Nov. 1, 2012

November 1, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Leslie Bridges v. Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC, Veolia Water North America Operating Service, LLC, and The City of Indianapolis, Dept. of Waterworks
49A02-1112-CC-1097
Civil collection. Affirms trial court dismissal of Bridges’ class action filed after her water was turned off for nonpayment, finding Bridges failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available at the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission. She had to seek those remedies before seeking judicial relief. Concludes that I.C. 8-1-2-68 through -70 grant the IURC exclusive jurisdiction over Bridges’ claim regardless of whether it is treated as a challenge to and request for reimbursement of the reconnect fee or as a challenge to the allegedly improper act of terminating her residential water service in a manner inconsistent with the terms of the tariff.
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Opinions Oct. 31, 2012

October 31, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Robertson Fowler v. State of Indiana
49A05-1202-PC-68
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief. Fowler received a benefit at the time he entered into his plea bargain, so he may not now challenge the sentence as illegal.
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Opinions Oct. 30, 2012

October 30, 2012
Indiana Supreme Court
Lisa J. Kane v. State of Indiana
30S04-1206-CR-372
Criminal. Reverses conviction of Class D felony receiving stolen property and remands for retrial. The trial court improperly instructed the jury on the mental state required to convict Kane.

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Opinions Oct. 29, 2012

October 29, 2012
Indiana Court of Appeals
Betty J. Angel v. Kent H. Powelson and Marjorie A. Powelson
82A04-1205-PL-292
Civil plenary. Affirms order granting part of the Powelsons’ summary judgment motion on Angel’s claims of reformation of a deed and adverse possession. The undisputed evidence shows that both Angel and the Powelsons were granted an easement to use the roadway and both used it for ingress and egress purposes. The evidence also supports Angel’s claim for reformation of a deed is barred by laches.
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  1. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  2. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  3. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  4. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  5. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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