Opinions

Opinions Aug. 22, 2014

August 22, 2014
Indiana Tax Court
Indianapolis Racquet Club, Inc. v. Marion County Assessor
49T10-1201-TA-1
Property tax. Affirms Indiana Board of Tax Review finding that Indianapolis Racquet Club Inc. failed to establish a prima facie case that its 2002 assessments were excessive or that they were not uniform and equal.
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Opinions Aug. 21, 2014

August 21, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
James S. Littrell v. State of Indiana
79A02-1401-CR-24
Criminal.  Affirms conviction of Class B felony possession of cocaine. Finds Littrell’s right to a fast and speedy trial was not violated, the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction, and his sentence is appropriate. Remands for the sole purpose of correcting a typographical error in the guilty plea and sentencing orders.
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Opinions Aug. 20, 2014

August 20, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Goodrich Quality Theaters, Inc. and Roncelli, Inc. v. Fostcorp Heating and Cooling, Inc., Wilson Iron Works, Inc., Johnson Carpet, Inc., d/b/a Johnson Commercial Interiors
64A03-1308-PL-318
Civil plenary. Affirms ruling in favor of Fostcorp Heating and Cooling and other appellees on various breach of contract claims and foreclosure of mechanic’s liens stemming from the construction of a movie theatre. Roncelli’s appeal was timely filed and the judgments are supported by the findings. It was an abuse of discretion for the trial court to award attorney fees, so reverses those fees in favor of the appellees.
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Opinions Aug. 19, 2014

August 19, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Adoption of M.H., W.M. & S.K. v. N.B. & R.B.
82A01-1310-AD-449
Adoption.  Affirms order denying W.M. and S.K.’s petition for adoption of M.H. and granting the petition of adoption filed by R.B. and N.B. The appellants did not overcome the presumption that the judge acted impartially when he ruled in favor of N.B. and R.B. The judge received an email from a former fraternity brother in favor of the adoptive family, but he refused to recuse himself in the case because he said he would not consider the person’s argument, stopped reading the email quickly, and had not recently socialized or interacted with the fraternity brother. Finds evidence supports adoption by N.B. and R.B. in the best interests of the child.
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Opinions Aug. 18, 2014

August 18, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
Linda D. McIntire, and those similarly situated v. Franklin Township Community School Corporation
49A02-1401-PL-2
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the school corporation on McIntire’s lawsuit challenging certain fees charged to students in high school. The trial court erred in concluding her claim was subject to the notice requirements of the Indiana Tort Claims Act, but affirms because McIntire may not maintain a claim for monetary damages under Article I, Section 8 of the Indiana Constitution.
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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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  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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