Opinions

Opinions Nov. 7, 2014

November 7, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Gregory F. Zoeller, Attorney General and Rick J. Ruble, Commissioner of the In. Dept. of Labor v. James M. Sweeney, David A. Fagan, Charles Severs et. al.
45S00-1309-PL-596
Civil plenary. Reverses finding by Lake Superior Court that I.C. 22-6-6-8 and 22-6-6-10 violate Article I, Section 21 of the Indiana Constitution. Any compulsion to provide services does not constitute a demand made by the state. Justice Rucker concurs in result with separate opinion.
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Opinions Nov. 6, 2014

November 6, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Victor Keeylen v. State of Indiana
49A05-1308-CR-419
Criminal. Grants rehearing and affirms original opinion in all respects. Clarifies point from original opinion and still holds that it is unlikely the detective attempted to mislead the judicial officer into issuing the search warrant.
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Opinions Nov. 5, 2014

November 5, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Erie Insurance Exchange v. Troy Sams and Teresa Sams
44A03-1403-CT-97
Civil tort. Affirms judgment ordering Erie Insurance to pay the Samses $63,924.89 for losses they suffered after a storm damaged their home. The trial court did not err in finding the policy covered the storm damage to the home and the judgment amount was not clearly erroneous.
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Opinions Nov. 3, 2014

November 3, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of D.B.M. and H.B. (Father) v. Indiana Department of Child Services
02A03-1405-JT-171
Juvenile. Affirms trial court’s order to terminate father’s parental rights. Rules the testimony of Allen County Department of Child Services supervisor was cumulative of the other evidence so any error in admitting the testimony was harmless. Also finds the evidence presented at the hearing supports the trial court’s conclusion that the conditions which necessitated the child’s removal from the father’s care would not be remedied.
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Opinions Oct. 31, 2014

October 31, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Michael Dwain Neal v. Amanda Lee Austin
49A02-1404-DR-225
Domestic relation. Reverses grant of Austin’s petition for post-secondary education expenses on behalf of her and Neal’s adult child. The trial court did not have authority to issue an order for educational support. Holds that I.C. 31-16-6-6(c) and -6(d) necessitates that where the most recent order establishing a child support obligation was issued after June 30, 2012, the child must file a petition for educational needs before he or she becomes 19 years of age.
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Opinions Oct. 30, 2014

October 30, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Wayne A. Campbell v. State of Indiana
13S05-1410-PC-682
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief, finding no ineffective assistance by trial counsel for, in part, failing to object to an instruction on the definition of “intentionally.” The second sentence of the contested instruction serves to emphasize the heavy burden placed on the state to prove that a defendant acted intentionally.
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Opinions Oct. 29, 2014

October 29, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Marshall G. Welton v. Shani J. Anderson, et al.
13-3336
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson.
Civil. Affirms dismissal of Welton’s claims of malicious prosecution, violations of the Fourth and 14th amendments and state law violations. Welton failed to state a predicate constitutional violation in support of his malicious prosecution claim and failed to show the requisite malice.
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Opinions Oct. 28, 2014

October 28, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Trevor Hinds
13-3543
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, New Albany Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Criminal. Affirms two-level sentencing enhancement for production or trafficking under U.S.S. G. 2B1.1(b)(11)(B)(i). Hinds’ crime involved the production of counterfeit access devices (credit cards) and the court did not err in applying the enhancement. Vacates the two special conditions imposed: that Hinds pay a portion of the court-ordered substance abuse treatment and drug testing and that he submit to suspicionless searches and seizures. The court did not make a finding whether Hinds could pay for the testing, and the government concedes that the search and seizure condition is unlawfully broad and invasive.
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Opinions October 27, 2014

October 27, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In Re the Adoption of K.W.: M.W. v. S.L. and T.L.
10A04-1309-AD-469
Adoption. Reverses decree granting S.L. and T.L.’s petition to adopt K.W. The trial court violated father’s due process rights when it failed to rule on his request for appointed counsel. Remands for the trial court to determine whether father, who is incarcerated, is indigent, and if so, to appoint counsel to represent him at a new adoption hearing.
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Opinions Oct. 24, 2014

October 24, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
219 Kenwood Holdings, LLC v. Properties 2006, LLC
45A03-1401-MI-49
Miscellaneous. Affirms finding that Properties 2006 LLC substantially complied with the requirements of I.C. 6-1.1-25-4.5(e), which requires the purchaser of property sold at a tax sale to notify the owner of record of, among other things, the purchaser’s intent to petition for a tax deed on or after a specified date.
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Opinions Oct. 23, 2013

October 24, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Gabina Hernandez v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A03-1403-CR-78
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class A misdemeanors conversion and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.<
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Opinions Oct. 22, 2014

October 22, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Gary Wayne Oswalt v. State of Indiana
35S02-1401-CR-10
Criminal. Oswalt preserved appellate review of three for-cause challenges of prospective jurors, but because the trial court was within its discretion to deny all of them, affirms his convictions. Holds as a matter of first impression that parties satisfy the exhaustion rule the moment they use their final peremptory challenge, regardless of whom they strike. Also holds that if parties fully comply with the exhaustion rule and demonstrate they were unable to remove any prospective juror for lack of peremptories, appellate courts may review denial of any motion to strike for cause, regardless of whether a challenged juror actually served on the jury.
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Opinions Oct. 21, 2014

October 21, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Gary A. Gallien v. State of Indiana
22A01-1402-PC-50
Post-conviction. Reverses denial of post-conviction relief due to defense attorney’s failure to raise the issue of maximum consecutive sentences under I.C. 35-50-1-2. The majority held Gallien was prejudiced by his defender’s failure to raise the issue regarding burglaries that were “closely related in time, place, and circumstance.” Dissenting judge Cale Bradford agreed with the majority’s analysis but would affirm the trial court because he didn’t believe Gallien was prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to raise the issue.
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Opinions Oct. 20, 2014

October 20, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Kenneth Schmitt
13-2894
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division, Chief Judge Richard Young.
Criminal. Affirms conviction for possessing a firearm while being a felon and sentence of 110 months in prison with three years of supervised release. Finds police officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment’s restrictions on warrantless searches because the officers were doing a protective sweep to secure the premises when they unlocked the basement door and searched the basement where the AK-15 semi-automatic assault rifle was found. Rules although the District Court erred in admitting evidence of Schmitt’s conviction for possession of methamphetamine, the error was harmless. And concludes District Court did not err in applying a four-level enhancement to Schmitt’s base offense level.
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Opinions Oct. 17, 2014

October 17, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Dominic Johnson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1403-CR-125
Criminal. Affirms convictions for auto theft, a Class C felony, and resisting law enforcement, a Class A felony.
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Opinions Oct. 16, 2014

October 16, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Indiana State Ethics Commission, Office of Inspector General, and David Thomas, in his Official Capacity as Inspector General v. Patricia Sanchez
49S02-1402-PL-80
Civil plenary. Affirms State Ethics Commission’s decision that Sanchez’s conduct – keeping several items that were state property after she was fired from the Department of Workforce Development – ran afoul of an administrative rule and that she should be barred from future state executive branch employment. Double jeopardy does not bar the proceeding before the commission, the criminal court’s probable cause determination is not binding upon the commission, and there is substantial independent evidence to support the commission’s decision.
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Opinions Oct. 15, 2014

October 15, 2014
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Randy M. Swisher v. Porter County Sheriff’s Dept., et al.
13-3602
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Magistrate Judge Christopher A. Nuechterlein.
Civil. Reverses judgment in favor of the defendants on Swisher’s 42 U.S.C. 1983 complaint that he was denied medical care during his nine-month stint in jail. The magistrate judge, while fully crediting the plaintiff’s testimony at an evidentiary hearing, erred in dismissing Swisher’s suit for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
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Opinions Oct. 14, 2014

October 14, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Brandon Earthman v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1404-CR-147
Criminal. Affirms 12-year sentence for Class B felony robbery.
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Opinions Oct. 13, 2014

October 13, 2014
There are no opinions Monday because the courts are closed in observance of Columbus Day.
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Opinions Oct. 10, 2014

October 10, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Susan A. Snyder v. Town of Yorktown, Delaware County Surveyor, Delaware County Drainage Board, Randall Miller & Associates, Inc., and Watson Excavating, Inc.
18A02-1405-CT-332
Civil tort. Reverses grant of the defendants’ motion to dismiss Snyder’s complaint regarding inverse condemnation because her complaint sufficiently states a claim for it. Affirms dismissal as it relates to her claim for trespass because the allegations in her complaint fail to establish any circumstances under which she would be entitled to relief for trespass. Remands for further proceedings.
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Opinions Oct. 9, 2014

October 9, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Stacey D. Cox v. State of Indiana
29A05-1312-CR-637
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class D felony involuntary manslaughter and Class B misdemeanor operating a child care home without a license. The state presented sufficient evidence that Cox operated a child care home under I.C. 12-17.2-5-28.6.
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Opinions Oct. 8, 2014

October 8, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Rodney A. Richard v. State of Indiana
46A05-1312-CR-628
Criminal. Affirms Class A felony conviction of dealing in cocaine within 1,000 feet of a public park, but reverses Class A felony conviction of dealing in cocaine within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex. The state did not offer sufficient evidence to prove he committed dealing within 1,000 feet of a family housing complex. Remands for the trial court to enter a conviction as a Class B felony and resentence him on that count.
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Opinions Oct. 7, 2014

October 7, 2014
Indiana Supreme Court
Evansville Courier & Press and Rita Ward v. Vanderburgh County Health Department
82S04-1401-PL-49
Civil plenary. Reverses determination by trial court and finds death certificates which include the cause of death are public records. Holds a plain reading of the state statute denies public viewing of death information at the Indiana State Department of Health but gives private citizens access to death records at the local county health department. Remands for summary judgment in plaintiffs’ favor and to determine award of attorney fees.
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Opinions Oct. 6, 2014

October 6, 2014
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Opinions Oct. 3, 2014

October 3, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Eve Carson v. Stacy Palombo
49A02-1312-PL-1052
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of Palombo on Carson’s claims of defamation per se, defamation per quod and invasion of privacy by false light based upon Palombo’s comments regarding a YouTube video Carson posted criticizing the investigation of her sister-in-law’s decades-old murder. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Carson’s motion to amend her complaint to include facts she knew but omitted at the time her original complaint was filed to defeat a grant of summary judgment in Palombo’s favor. There is no genuine issue of material fact that Carson’s claimed damages were incurred as a consequence of alleged defamatory statements, and in the light of other videos Carson posted on YouTube, she was cast in essentially the same light as Palombo’s comment.
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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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