Opinions

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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Opinions July 11, 2014

July 11, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Scott A. Wright v. State of Indiana
45A05-1310-CR-526
Criminal. Vacates Wright’s conviction of Class A felony child molesting and remands for a new trial. Finds the trial court erred in replacing a juror during deliberations. The juror was the lone vote to acquit and had stopped deliberating but he was not prejudicing the other jurors nor impairing Wright’s right to a trial by jury. Moreover, the trial court failed to explain to the jury that the removal of the single juror was not because the court agreed or disagreed with the juror’s views.
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Opinions July 10, 2014

July 10, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Adam Hartman v. EBSCO Industries Inc., et al
13-3398
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Theresa L. Springmann.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of defendants on Hartman’s lawsuit alleging negligence and strict liability after he was injured accidently by a gun. Indiana has a 10-year statute of repose for products-liability actions and his gun was then 14 years old. There are two exceptions to the statute, but he cannot satisfy either one.
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Opinions June 9, 2014

July 9, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Veolia Water Indianapolis, LLC, City of Indianapolis, Department of Waterworks, and City of Indianapolis v. National Trust Insurance Company and FCCI Insurance Company a/s/o Ultra Steak, Inc., et al.
49S04-1301-PL-8
Civil plenary. Grants petition for rehearing on the issue of whether the insurers are third-party beneficiaries to the management agreement between Veolia and the city of Indianapolis. As to all issues not expressly addressed in the principal opinion, the Court of Appeals is summarily affirmed.
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Opinions July 8, 2014

July 8, 2014
The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was posted after IL deadline Monday:
Julia Hutt v. AbbVie Products LLC
13-1481
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of AbbVie Products, formerly known as Solvay Pharmaceuticals, on Hutt’s age discrimination and retaliation claims and her state law claim asserting a violation of the Indiana Wage Payment Statute. The District Court correctly concluded that Hutt’s age discrimination claim fails under the direct method and she could not prove the company retaliated against her for filing a complaint with the EEOC. Finds Hutt failed to develop her bad-faith argument with regard to her claim alleging violation of the Wage Payment Statute.
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Opinions July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Z.A. v. State of Indiana
49A02-1311-JV-973
Juvenile. Reverses adjudication that Z.A. committed what would be Class D felony theft if committed by an adult. The state did not prove that Z.A. exerted unauthorized control over the television he and his mother purchased together when he took it from his mother’s home over her objection.
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Opinions July 3, 2014

July 3, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Gene Williams on behalf of Pamela J. Townsend v. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security
13-3607
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Magistrate Judge John E. Martin.
Civil. Reverses District Court’s affirmation of the administrative law judge’s decision that Townsend became totally disabled as of Nov. 1, 2008.
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Opinions July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of: Steve L. Brejensky
29S00-1205-DI-277
Discipline. Imposes at least one-year suspension without automatic reinstatement based on Brejensky’s conviction of Class A misdemeanor conversion and lack of remorse. He may be reinstated only after proving his remorse, rehabilitation and fitness to practice law. The costs of the proceeding are assessed against him.
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Opinions July 1, 2014

July 1, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
James Brown v. State of Indiana

49A02-1312-CR-1023
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, holding that Brown was intoxicated in a public place and the evidence was sufficient to prove he harassed, annoyed or alarmed another person, one of the four conduct elements under the statute amended in 2012.
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Opinions June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Keion Gaddie v. State of Indiana
49S02-1312-CR-789.
Criminal. Reverses conviction of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, holding that I.C. 35-44.1-3-1(a)(3), the statute defining the offense of resisting law enforcement by fleeing after being ordered to stop, must be construed to require that a law enforcement officer’s order to stop be based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause. On that basis, there was insufficient evidence against Gaddie to support the conviction.
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Opinions June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
South Shore Baseball, LLC d/b/a Gary South Shore RailCats and Northwest Sports Venture, LLC v. Juanita DeJesus
45S03-1308-CT-531
Civil tort. Reverses trial court denial of a motion for summary judgment to the Railcats defendants in a case brought by a fan injured by a foul ball hit into the stands at a minor-league baseball game. Holding the defendants are entitled to summary judgment, remands to the trial court to enter judgment accordingly.

 
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Opinions June 26, 2014

June 26, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Traci Nelson v. Tony Nelson
41A01-1309-DR-424
Domestic relation. Affirms order denying Traci Nelson’s motion to relocate and modifying custody of her child in favor of father Tony Nelson. Finds mother’s reasons for relocation were legitimate and in good faith and that the conclusion that the Relocation Statute factors disfavored relocation and merited a change in custody to father was not clearly erroneous.
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Opinions June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014
Indiana Tax Court
The Speedway Public Library v. Indiana Department of Local Government Finance
49T10-1103-TA-22
Tax. Affirms the Department of Local Government Finance’s final determination rejecting the appropriations and levies associated with the library’s 2011 budget and decision to reinstitute the appropriations and levies associated with the 2010 budget. Public notice of the town council’s Sept. 13 meeting was statutorily required.  
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Opinions June 24, 2014

June 24, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Tyrone L. Jones v. Richard Brown
12-3245
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, Judge William T. Lawrence.
Civil. Affirms denial of Jones’ petition for habeas relief. Finds his trial counsel was not constitutionally ineffective under Strickland. 
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Opinions June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Walbert Keith Farmer
13-3373
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Criminal. Vacates conditions of supervised release that required Farmer to submit to certain searches at the request of his probation officer, even without a warrant or reasonable suspicion, and a ban on self-employment. These special conditions do not bear a reasonably direct relationship to Farmer’s underlying crimes of attempted extortion. Remands for further proceedings.
 
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Opinions June 20, 2014

June 20, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
James Nichols v. Michigan City Plant Planning Department, Michigan City Area Schools
13-2893
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Chief Judge Philip P. Simon.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment for Michigan City schools on Nichols’ allegations of Title VII violations. He did not provide sufficient evidence that demonstrates that the harassment he allegedly suffered while working as a temporary janitor was severe or pervasive. He also failed to provide sufficient evidence that his alleged harasser was a proximate cause of his firing because affidavits from his supervisors show that he would have been let go even if there was no feud between Nichols and the harasser.
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Opinions June 19, 2014

June 19, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Devon Groves v. United States of America
12-3253
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller Jr.
Civil. Affirms denial of Groves’ Section 2255 motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence of 240 months in prison for one count each of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon. Finds Groves was provided with effective assistance of counsel.
 
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Opinions June 18, 2014

June 18, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Gabriel V. Mendoza v. United States of America
13-3195, 13-3196
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Judge Robert L. Miller Jr.
Civil. Affirms denial of Mendoza’s petition for relief from his drug convictions. He was not deprived due process when an interpreter relocated her position in the courtroom to translate for a witness nor was he provided ineffective assistance of counsel.
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Opinions June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Cruisin', Inc., d/b/a Cruisin' Auto Sales v. Springleaf Financial Services of Indiana, Inc., f/k/a American General Financial Services
39A01-1309-CC-423
Civil collection. Affirms judgment in favor of Springleaf. Finds Cruisin’ breached the terms of the contract by giving the title to the car buyer rather than mailing it to Springleaf. Remands to correct a scrivener’s error and enter the reimbursement amount at $2,659.02. Also remands to enter the judgment damage award against the dealership and buyer jointly and severally.
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  1. I like the concept. Seems like a good idea and really inexpensive to manage.

  2. I don't agree that this is an extreme case. There are more of these people than you realize - people that are vindictive and/or with psychological issues have clogged the system with baseless suits that are costly to the defendant and to taxpayers. Restricting repeat offenders from further abusing the system is not akin to restricting their freedon, but to protecting their victims, and the court system, from allowing them unfettered access. From the Supreme Court opinion "he has burdened the opposing party and the courts of this state at every level with massive, confusing, disorganized, defective, repetitive, and often meritless filings."

  3. So, if you cry wolf one too many times courts may "restrict" your ability to pursue legal action? Also, why is document production equated with wealth? Anyone can "produce probably tens of thousands of pages of filings" if they have a public library card. I understand this is an extreme case, but our Supreme Court really got this one wrong.

  4. He called our nation a nation of cowards because we didn't want to talk about race. That was a cheap shot coming from the top cop. The man who decides who gets the federal government indicts. Wow. Not a gentleman if that is the measure. More importantly, this insult delivered as we all understand, to white people-- without him or anybody needing to explain that is precisely what he meant-- but this is an insult to timid white persons who fear the government and don't want to say anything about race for fear of being accused a racist. With all the legal heat that can come down on somebody if they say something which can be construed by a prosecutor like Mr Holder as racist, is it any wonder white people-- that's who he meant obviously-- is there any surprise that white people don't want to talk about race? And as lawyers we have even less freedom lest our remarks be considered violations of the rules. Mr Holder also demonstrated his bias by publically visiting with the family of the young man who was killed by a police offering in the line of duty, which was a very strong indicator of bias agains the offer who is under investigation, and was a failure to lead properly by letting his investigators do their job without him predetermining the proper outcome. He also has potentially biased the jury pool. All in all this worsens race relations by feeding into the perception shared by whites as well as blacks that justice will not be impartial. I will say this much, I do not blame Obama for all of HOlder's missteps. Obama has done a lot of things to stay above the fray and try and be a leader for all Americans. Maybe he should have reigned Holder in some but Obama's got his hands full with other problelms. Oh did I mention HOlder is a bank crony who will probably get a job in a silkstocking law firm working for millions of bucks a year defending bankers whom he didn't have the integrity or courage to hold to account for their acts of fraud on the United States, other financial institutions, and the people. His tenure will be regarded by history as a failure of leadership at one of the most important jobs in our nation. Finally and most importantly besides him insulting the public and letting off the big financial cheats, he has been at the forefront of over-prosecuting the secrecy laws to punish whistleblowers and chill free speech. What has Holder done to vindicate the rights of privacy of the American public against the illegal snooping of the NSA? He could have charged NSA personnel with violations of law for their warrantless wiretapping which has been done millions of times and instead he did not persecute a single soul. That is a defalcation of historical proportions and it signals to the public that the government DOJ under him was not willing to do a damn thing to protect the public against the rapid growth of the illegal surveillance state. Who else could have done this? Nobody. And for that omission Obama deserves the blame too. Here were are sliding into a police state and Eric Holder made it go all the faster.

  5. JOE CLAYPOOL candidate for Superior Court in Harrison County - Indiana This candidate is misleading voters to think he is a Judge by putting Elect Judge Joe Claypool on his campaign literature. paragraphs 2 and 9 below clearly indicate this injustice to voting public to gain employment. What can we do? Indiana Code - Section 35-43-5-3: Deception (a) A person who: (1) being an officer, manager, or other person participating in the direction of a credit institution, knowingly or intentionally receives or permits the receipt of a deposit or other investment, knowing that the institution is insolvent; (2) knowingly or intentionally makes a false or misleading written statement with intent to obtain property, employment, or an educational opportunity; (3) misapplies entrusted property, property of a governmental entity, or property of a credit institution in a manner that the person knows is unlawful or that the person knows involves substantial risk of loss or detriment to either the owner of the property or to a person for whose benefit the property was entrusted; (4) knowingly or intentionally, in the regular course of business, either: (A) uses or possesses for use a false weight or measure or other device for falsely determining or recording the quality or quantity of any commodity; or (B) sells, offers, or displays for sale or delivers less than the represented quality or quantity of any commodity; (5) with intent to defraud another person furnishing electricity, gas, water, telecommunication, or any other utility service, avoids a lawful charge for that service by scheme or device or by tampering with facilities or equipment of the person furnishing the service; (6) with intent to defraud, misrepresents the identity of the person or another person or the identity or quality of property; (7) with intent to defraud an owner of a coin machine, deposits a slug in that machine; (8) with intent to enable the person or another person to deposit a slug in a coin machine, makes, possesses, or disposes of a slug; (9) disseminates to the public an advertisement that the person knows is false, misleading, or deceptive, with intent to promote the purchase or sale of property or the acceptance of employment;

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