Opinions

Opinions March 8, 2011

March 8, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Lisa Gray v. State of Indiana
82A01-1005-CR-223
Criminal. Reverses Gray’s conviction of possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor. She contended there was insufficient evidence that she constructively possessed the marijuana. Judge Cale Bradford dissents, writing that Gray was in close proximity to the marijuana and that it was in plain view, as officers had testified at trial.
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Opinions March 7, 2011

March 7, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Martin Avila
09-2681
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge David F. Hamilton.
Criminal. Affirms 365-month sentence for drug offenses following re-sentencing on remand. The District Court corrected the drug quantity attributable to Avila. The District Court did not violate the cross-appeal rule and acted within the scope of the remand.
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Opinions March 4, 2011

March 4, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
In Re: Rich Bergeron
10-3279
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Denies Bergeron’s petition for mandamus removing Judge Barker from Eppley v. Iacovelli, pending in the District Court. Bergeron is involved in that suit and was held in contempt for not removing web postings. Regarding Bergeron’s contempt proceeding, Bergeron didn’t ask the 7th Circuit to stay the proceeding in the District Court and it’s now too late to order the judge removed from the case because she’s through with it. The appearance of impropriety in this case is too attenuated to justify that extraordinary remedy.
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Opinions March 3, 2011

March 3, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, Inc. v. Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, et al.
49A02-1002-PL-125
Civil plenary. Affirms denial of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to enjoin the commission from issuing new beer dealer’s permits in locations in which the statutory limits on the number of beer dealer’s permits have been met or exceeded. The Commission’s interpretation of 7.1-3 is reasonable and doesn’t violate Title 7.1. The IABR also failed to show its members are likely to suffer irreparable harm if no injunction is issued.
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Opinions March 2, 2011

March 2, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
County Council of Porter County v. Northwest Indiana Regional Dev. Authority, et al.
37A04-1004-CT-291
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgment for the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the denial of the council’s motion for summary judgment on the council’s complaint seeking declaratory judgment it has the right to withdraw from the RDA. Porter County cannot withdraw from the RDA and the council waived its argument that the original legislation establishing the RDA Act is unconstitutional special legislation.
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Opinions March 1, 2011

March 1, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Gary Hughes
18A02-1006-PL-659
Civil. Reverses and remands entry of judgment in favor of appellee-plaintiff Gary Hughes on his contract claim in the amount of $166,792.83. Auto-Owners contends, inter alia, that the trial court erred in denying its summary judgment motion on the basis that Hughes’ suit was barred by a one-year limitation in the relevant insurance policy.
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Opinions Feb. 28, 2011

February 28, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
David E. Schalk v. State of Indiana
53A01-1005-CR-210
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor attempted possession of marijuana. Schalk arranged a drug buy to try to discredit a witness against his client. An attorney is not exempt from criminal law even if his only purpose is the defense of his client.
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Opinions Feb. 25, 2011

February 25, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Brian Holtzleiter v. Angela Holtzleiter
48A02-1006-DR-736
Domestic relation. Reverses denial of Brian’s petition to modify child support. He hasn’t waived his argument that he is entitled to modification of child support under the requirement that the current support obligation was 20 percent different from what would be required under the guidelines and it had been at least a year since the support order was issued. Remands for the issuance of a new child support order.
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Opinions Feb. 24, 2011

February 24, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
French C. Mason v. State of Indiana
49A02-1005-CR-475
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class D felonies resisting law enforcement and unlawful use of body armor. The trial court had sufficient evidence to show Mason resisted law enforcement and his crime rose to the Class D felony level and to conclude Mason intended to wear body armor in the aid of the felony of resisting law enforcement through the use of a vehicle.
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Opinions Feb. 23, 2011

February 23, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Debra K. Sands v. Helen HCI, LLC
06A01-1005-CC-231
Civil collections. Reverses denial of Sands’ motion to enforce a settlement agreement between herself, Helen HCI LLC and two other companies, providing for dismissal with prejudice of Helen HCI’s complaint against Sands in Indiana and dismissal with prejudice of Sands’ complaint against Helen HCI and the other companies in a Wisconsin suit. The parties entered into a binding contract which required the subsequent execution of a document memorializing their agreement and there is no uncertainty as to any substantial term of the settlement contract.
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Opinions Feb. 22, 2011

February 22, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
United States of America v. Roger D. Slone
09-4089
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge Rudy Lozano.
Criminal. Affirms conviction of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and sentence of 120 months in prison. The search incident to his arrest was reasonable and the vehicle evidence was properly admitted against him.
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Opinions Feb. 21, 2011

February 21, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Joshua Burke v. State of Indiana
49A02-1006-CR-660
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B felony burglary. Indiana Code Section 35-43-2-1(1)(B)(ii), which enhances burglary from a Class C felony to Class B felony if the building or structure burgled is used for religious worship, does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment or Article 1, Section 4 of the Indiana Constitution.
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Opinions Feb. 18, 2011

February 18, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of M.W.; M.W. v. I.D.C.S.
32A01-1007-JT-322
Juvenile. Reverses termination of parental rights. Given the father’s efforts to comply with the amended plan and his release from incarceration soon after the hearing date, the trial court’s findings aren’t supported by clear and convincing evidence.
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Opinions Feb. 17, 2011

February 17, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Ahmad Foster v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1005-CR-579
Criminal. Affirms denial of motion to modify sentence.
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Opinions Feb. 16, 2011

February 16, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jeff Whitely, et al. v. Anthony Moravec, et al.
09-3302
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge David F. Hamilton.
Civil. Plaintiffs sued an Indiana company incorporated in New York to satisfy the penalty claims after the Indiana company entered into bankruptcy and was late paying wages and fringe benefits. Affirms the District Court correctly concluded that New York Bus. Corp. L. Section 630(a) doesn’t make defendants liable for a penalty under Indiana law.
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Opinions Feb. 15, 2011

February 15, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
K.D., et al. Alleged to be C.H.I.N.S.; S.S. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services, et al.
49A02-1004-JC-462
Juvenile. Reverses and remands juvenile court’s adjudication that the appellant-respondent’s stepchildren were children in need of services. Concludes that where, as here, one party admits to CHINS allegations while another denies them, due process entitles the contesting party to a fact-finding hearing and adjudication. The mother admitted to the allegations in the petition, but the stepfather denied the allegations and requested a fact-finding hearing.
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Opinions Feb. 14, 2011

February 14, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Cynthia Kartman, et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., et al.
09-1725
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge William T. Lawrence.
Civil. Reverses District Court ruling that a class claim for injunctive relief could proceed under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23(b)(2) and certification of a class to determine whether State Farm should be required to re-inspect policyholders’ roofs pursuant to a uniform and objective standard. There is no contract or tort-based duty requiring the insurer to use a particular standard for assessing hail damage. Also, the requested injunction is neither appropriate nor final.
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Opinions Feb. 11, 2011

February 11, 2011
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Mouhamadou M. Sow v. Fortville Police Department, et al.
10-2188
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Chief Judge Richard L. Young
Civil. Affirms District Court’s grant of summary judgment to the Fortville Police Department, Officer Michael Fuller of the Fortville Police Department, and the McCordsville Police Department. Sow’s action was brought under 42 U.S.C. sections 1983, 1985, and 1986 after he was arrest for forgery but the charges were later dropped. Sow also alleged numerous state law claims, asserting that the District Court had supplemental jurisdiction over those claims.
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Opinions Feb. 10, 2011

February 10, 2011
Indiana Supreme Court
Killbuck Concerned Citizens Association v. J.M. Corporation and Ralph Reed
48S00-1003-PL-158
Civil plenary. Reverses trial court grant of J.M. Corporation’s motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Indiana Code Section 13-20-2-11, which would require further review and approval of zoning, violated the Indiana Constitution and remands for further proceedings. Declines to decide the constitutional issue, but finds because J.M. Corporation’s facilities accepted wasted before April 1, 2008, Indiana Code Section 13-20-2-11 doesn’t apply.
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Opinions Feb. 9, 2011

February 9, 2011
Indiana Supreme Court
Indiana Dept. of State Revenue v. Belterra Resort Indiana, LLC
49S10-1010-TA-519
Tax. Grants rehearing to address the question of whether Belterra is subject to a tax penalty. Remands to the Indiana Tax Court to determine the timeliness of Belterra’s argument and, if timely, whether Belterra is subject to the penalty and, if so, whether the penalty should be waived. Affirms original opinion in all other respects. Justice Dickson concurs in result, believing the rehearing should also be granted to revisit the previous decision on the “step transaction” issue.
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Opinions Feb. 8, 2011

February 8, 2011
Indiana Supreme Court
Mariea L. Best v. Russell C. Best
06S05-1102-CV-73
Civil. Affirms trial court grant of primary physical custody of M.B. to father. The trial court made the necessary findings that there has been a substantial change in one or more of the statutory factors and that the modification of physical custody is in M.B.’s best interests. Reverses the finding that the mother is in contempt. Justice Sullivan dissented and would deny transfer. Justice David did not participate.
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Opinions Feb. 7, 2011

February 7, 2011
Ricky E. Graham v. State of Indiana
22A01-1008-PC-392
Post conviction. Affirms post-conviction relief court properly rejected Graham’s claims of an inadequate factual basis or ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and claims of fundamental error. The PCR court’s findings don’t support its rejection of his claim that his plea was illusory or involuntary. Remands for a new PCR hearing to address that issue and the question of the effectiveness of his trial counsel on the grounds raised in his PCR petition, should he resubmit his subpoena request for his trial counsel to appear at the new hearing.
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Opinions Feb. 4, 2011

February 4, 2011
Indiana Court of Appeals
Terry Likens, et al. v. Prickett's Properties, Inc., et al.
43A03-1008-PL-455
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Prickett’s Properties Inc. and Realtor Jack Stump in the Likenses’ suit alleging negligence/breach of agency duty. According to Indiana Code Chapter 25-34.1-10, the only duty Stump owed the sellers is to treat them honestly and not knowingly give them false information. The Likenses do not allege on appeal that he breached this duty.
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Opinions Feb. 3, 2011

February 3, 2011
Indiana Supreme Court
Clifton Mauricio v. State of Indiana
02S03-1009-PC-501
Post conviction. Reverses denial of petition for post-conviction relief and remands for re-sentencing. The Supreme Court cannot say that the trial court would have sentenced Mauricio to 50 years notwithstanding its reference to a statute that was later held to be inapplicable.
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Opinions Feb. 2, 2011

February 2, 2011
The Indiana Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and Tax Court are closed today due to the weather.
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  1. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  2. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

  3. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  4. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  5. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

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