Courts

Restitution can't include security system costs

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
State statute doesn't allow trial courts to order restitution to pay for installation of a security system in victims' homes, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided today.Ruling on Keith Elton Rich v. State of Indiana, No. 79A05-0712-CR-687, the appellate court reversed Tippecanoe Circuit Judge Thomas Busch's restitution order issued in October 2007. Rich had pleaded guilty to burglary and marijuana possession and received a 14-year sentence that was partially suspended to probation. As a condition of probation, he also was ordered to...
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Kazakhstan group visits Marion County courts

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A group of about two dozen public administrators from Kazakhstan are in Indianapolis today learning about the state and local courts systems. The group visited the Marion County courts this afternoon.Judge Tanya Walton Pratt of Marion Superior Court welcomed them and gave an introduction about Marion County courts. She discussed the election process and the day-to-day work of a judge. After learning about our judicial system, the group toured several courtrooms and watched a jury trial, said Marion County Court Administrator Glenn...
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Court: evidence doesn't support sentence

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court threw out a life-without-parole sentence for felony murder because there wasn't proof the killing was "intentional," as state law requires for that penalty.In Hobert Alan Pittman v. State of Indiana, No. 31S00-0610-CR-355, Hobert Alan Pittman appealed his convictions and sentence of two consecutive life sentences for murdering his father and stepgrandmother, as well as a 73-year sentence for convictions of attempted murder, theft, auto theft, and conspiracy to commit burglary. Pittman's stepmother, Linda, and stepgrandmother, Myrtle, were returning...
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Judges: Evidence proves scienter in fraud case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld fines against two men convicted of defrauding investors, finding a reasonable jury would have found them guilty of scienter even though the defendants didn't take the stand. In Thursday's ruling in United States Securities and Exchange Commission v. Melvin R. Lyttle and Paul E. Knight, Nos. 07-2466, 07-2467, Melvin Lyttle and Paul Knight appealed the $110,000 fines each got following a grant of summary judgment in favor of the SEC on a variety of...
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Justices affirm sentence in child torture case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the first time, the Indiana Supreme Court today affirmed a trial court's sentence of life without parole for a Lafayette mother who had pleaded guilty to torturing and killing her stepdaughter.In Michelle Gauvin v. State of Indiana, No. 79S00-0702-CR-65, the state's highest court ruled 4-1 in a direct appeal that Tippecanoe Superior Judge Thomas Busch correctly sentenced the Lafayette mother for murder, confinement, and neglect of her 4-year-old stepdaughter, Aiyana. The girl died from head trauma in March 2005 after months...
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Hammond to host appeals court arguments

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals travels to Hammond April 7 to hear arguments in a case involving a dispute after the sale of real estate. Arguments begin at 10 a.m. CST in the Lake Superior Court, Civil Division No. 1 Courtroom, 232 Russell St., Hammond. In the case, Gladys E. Tobias v. Margaret and Thomas Mannella, No. 45A03-0708-CV-373, on appeal from Lake Superior Court, Judges Patricia Riley, James Kirsch, and Margret Robb are asked to decide whether the trial court erred...
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Applicants sought for $90,000 in grant funds

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
The Heartland Pro Bono Council, which serves Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, Marion, Morgan, and Shelby counties in central Indiana, received a cy pres award of more than $65,000 late last year and the organization is looking to distribute the money in the upcoming months. That amount, along with other funds the HPBC has received in cy pres monies in recent years - totaling $90,000 - will be given in one grant or multiple grants sometime after June 5, 2008.Heartland is...
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Court rules on environmental cleanup case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the statute of limitations on a claim for contribution toward cleanup costs doesn't begin until the owner is ordered to clean up the property, regardless of whether the owner should have known about the contamination earlier. The issue in Richard U. Pflanz and Delores J. Pflanz v. Merrill Foster, individually, Merrill Foster d/b/a/ Friendly Foster's Service, and Sunoco Inc. (R&M),  No. 36S01-0710-CV-425, is when the 10-year statute of limitations began on a claim for...
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Suspended attorney gets 3 more months

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indianapolis attorney is getting one last warning from the Indiana Supreme Court before being suspended indefinitely from practicing law.Attorney Wilburn G. Lowry of Marion County received an additional 90 days on his suspension handed down nearly a year ago, with the court specifically noting in its Jan. 11, 2008, order that "any future suspension for failure to meet CLE or dues requirements shall result in an indefinite suspension."In the order In the Matter of Contempt of the Supreme Court of...
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Test run for SCOTUS arguments

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indiana case goes up to the U.S. Supreme Court in the final week of March to determine whether a man who's been found competent to stand trial is competent to represent himself in those court proceedings.Before that happens, though, the defense team representing the Indianapolis man is at the University of Illinois College of Law in Chicago getting a test run today in a mock argument of Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, which will go before the nation's highest court...
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Magistrate up for nomination vote

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote Thursday morning on whether a federal magistrate in Indianapolis should be elevated to district judge for the Southern District of Indiana.A nomination vote for Magistrate William Lawrence is on the committee's agenda for the 10 a.m. meeting. The Indianapolis magistrate, who's been on the bench since 2002, went before the Senate committee in early May for his confirmation hearing. The president had selected him in February for the seat.If affirmed by the...
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Settlement may be largest of its kind: State agency resolves federal lawsuit that began with legal malpractice claim

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An Indianapolis law firm has been holding its breath for two years. Ever since getting hit with a potentially devastating $17.9 million jury verdict on a legal malpractice claim in state court, the 45-year-old law firm Fillenwarth Dennerline Groth & Towe hasn't been able to put the focus on its daily client business without acknowledging that dark storm cloud hovering overhead. Now, the storm cloud has dissolved. In what may be the state's largest-ever liquidation return of its kind, the Indiana...
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Indiana has voice in Second Amendment case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
For the first time in 70 years, the U.S. Supreme Court is testing the scope of the Second Amendment and could decide what "the right to keep and bear arms" means for the 21st century.Justices will consider the question Tuesday morning in District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290, which involves a citizen's challenge to a Washington, D.C., law banning him from keeping a handgun in his home.At issue is to what extent the gun rights amendment to the Constitution applies to...
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Judicial nominees submitted to governor

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The St. Joseph Superior Court Judicial Nomination Commission submitted five names today to Gov. Mitch Daniels to fill an upcoming vacancy after St. Joseph Superior Judge William T. Means retires Sept. 30.
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Federal magistrate faces Senate committee

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A federal magistrate nominated to become a Southern District of Indiana judge went before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon.Magistrate William Lawrence from Indianapolis faced committee members in Washington, D.C., to discuss why he should be promoted within the federal court's ranks. President George W. Bush selected him in February to succeed Judge John D. Tinder, whom the Senate confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Magistrate Lawrence was appointed in November 2002 but had worked at...
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Justices split on rental restriction case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
In a ruling that could be the first of its kind in the nation, a divided Indiana Supreme Court Thursday afternoon reversed a lower court's ruling that a Kokomo subdivision's covenant restricting rentals violated the federal Fair Housing Act because of potential racial implications.The state's highest court has been quiet on the issue since hearing arguments in October 2006, but it simultaneously decided to grant transfer and issue an opinion in the case of Villas West II of Willowridge v. Edna...
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SCOTUS hears pro se competency case

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments this morning in its third Indiana case in the past six months, pondering whether defendants found competent to stand trial maintain a right to represent themselves.In its first case of the morning at 10 a.m., justices took on Indiana v. Ahmad Edwards, No. 07-208, delving into what the Sixth Amendment dictates regarding competency standards for pro se litigants. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher argued for the state and shared his time...
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COA travels to Muncie, Oakland City

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals will make stops this week in Muncie and Oakland City to hear arguments in a public intoxication appeal and a negligence suit.On Tuesday, the appellate court visits Pruis Hall at Ball State University to hear arguments in Melissa Christian v. State, 49A02-0803-CR-272, in which Melissa Christian is appealing her Class B misdemeanor public intoxication conviction. She argues that because she was found by police in a parking area adjacent to a private residence, there is insufficient...
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Court affirms probation revocation

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the revocation of a man's probation and imposition of a 12-year sentence for his probation violation even though the trial court erred in not allowing him to explain why he missed his mandatory drug screenings. In Brian Woods v. State of Indiana, No.49S04-0808-CR-469, the court examined the concept and implications of a "strict compliance" probation, which Woods was on after previously failing to make mandatory drug screenings. The trial court warned him that if he violated his...
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Justices: Arrest was valid

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court has reversed a Marion County judge's ruling that officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department don't have arresting authority because they didn't take an official oath following a merger.A unanimous ruling came today in State v. Cheryl Oddi-Smith, 49S00-0710-CR-396, which stems from Marion Superior Judge Rueben Hill's decision involving a three-car accident and subsequent drunk driving arrest a year ago. He ruled that Oddi-Smith's arrest was illegal because the arresting officer was not sworn in after the Jan....
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Justices rule on 'workplace bullying' case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The phrase "workplace bully" was applicable to a plaintiff's claims of assault and is an entirely appropriate consideration in determining issues before a jury, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court April 8. However, the court did not define in the opinion what makes a "workplace bully." The majority of Indiana Supreme Court justices affirmed the trial court jury verdict of $325,000 and judgment on a claim for assault against a surgeon.In Daniel H. Raess, M.D., v. Joseph E. Doescher, No. 49S02-0710-CV-424, Dr. Raess...
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Circuit examines ministerial exception

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Two former administrators of Salvation Army thrift stores in Indianapolis are appealing their lawsuit against the non-profit organization on grounds that they were wrongly denied overtime pay in violation of a federal labor law.But at issue in their federal case is whether they're classified as "employees" and whether a religious freedom exception barring courts from getting involved in church management can be applied to their employment law claims.The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in Steve and Lorrie Schleicher...
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Attorney killed in car accident

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Merrillville defense attorney Garry Weiss, 53, was killed Tuesday night in a car crash in northern Indiana. Police responded to the three-car crash around 10 p.m. Tuesday in Merrillville. The preliminary investigation shows a Jeep Grand Cherokee ran a stop sign and struck two cars, one of which Weiss was driving. The driver of the Grand Cherokee and the two people inside the Chevy Blazer were also killed. Police believe speed was a contributing factor in the crash. Weiss had his...
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Court suspends Evansville attorney

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court today suspended an Evansville attorney who pleaded guilty to methamphetamine charges and received a six-year sentence in June.In its interim suspension notice dated July 14 In the Matter of Teresa L. Perry, No. 82S00-0806-DI-00307, the court ordered that the attorney is immediately suspended. Perry had been practicing law in the state since November 2000. The order remains in effect until further notice from the court.Perry had pleaded guilty in April to two counts of dealing a controlled...
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Split court chooses suspension, not disbarment

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The Indiana Supreme Court today suspended a Bloomington attorney for at least three years, though the chief justice and another justice wanted disbarment because this is the lawyer's fourth disciplinary proceeding since being admitted in 1970.The disciplinary decision came in the form of an 11-page per curiam opinion, In the Matter of David J. Colman, No 53S00-0607-DI-248. The court found that Colman engaged in attorney misconduct in several estate planning tasks: by participating in preparation of a will for a non-relative...
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  1. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  2. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  3. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  4. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  5. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

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