Courts

COA: Attorney must wait to collect fees

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court's ruling on when an attorney could receive his compensation under a contingency fee agreement, even though the attorney didn't submit a transcript of the bench trial detailing the trial court's findings. In Thomas J. Herr v. Carter Lumber Inc., The Carter Jones Lumber Company, and Brian L. Oaks, No. 79A02-0803-CV-290, before ruling on the issue Thomas Herr was appealing - whether the trial court erred in ordering he receive compensation under a...
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Judges disagrees about jury-verdict reversal

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The chief judge on the Indiana Court of Appeals is calling a majority's decision today a "radical act" in reversing a $45,000 jury verdict in favor of a former Butler University football player who was suspended from the school after being accused of raping a female volleyball player.In Susana Henri v. Stephen Curto, No. 49A02-0709-CV-777, Chief Judge John G. Baker disagreed with his two colleagues - authoring Judge Patricia Riley and Judge Margret Robb, who reversed the Marion County jury decision and...
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COA Judge John T. Sharpnack retires

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
After 17 years on the appellate bench, Judge John T. Sharpnack is retiring today from the Indiana Court of Appeals.Though he's stepping down as a full-time jurist, Judge Sharpnack plans to continue his work as a senior judge starting Monday; he reaches the constitutionally mandated retirement age of 75 May 7.A 3 p.m. retirement ceremony was planned to mark his departure from the court, with Chief Judge John Baker presiding. Judge Sharpnack's family, colleagues, former law clerks, and special guests were...
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Supreme Court record manager retires

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
After spending 22 years as the Indiana Supreme Court's director of information management, John Newman has decided it's time to leave state government to pursue his passion for writing. Newman's last day is July 25. Newman started his career in state government in 1970, taking oral history interviews for the Indiana State Library. He was later named Indiana's state archivist, a position he held until 1986 when he became the director of information management for the Supreme Court.As court records manager,...
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Appellate office clears backlog

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A new shift in the Indiana Appellate Clerk's Office has helped eliminate a backlog that created delays for some files getting to the appropriate court and appearing on the docket.Dealing with a backlog that's been evident for months, Appellate Clerk Kevin Smith started making changes late last year after becoming concerned with the ability to keep up with growing caseloads and intake workloads. The office implemented staff and organizational changes in January that involved hiring new employees, shuffling existing staff, and...
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Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer late last week to three cases to rule on issues of double recovery, evidence obtained through search warrants, and emotional distress. The court granted transfer to Ronald Mayes v. Second Injury Fund, No. 93A02-0702-EX-162, in which Mayes appealed the Indiana Worker's Compensation Board's denial of his petition for compensation from the Second Injury Fund. Mayes argued his settlement with a third-party tortfeasor shouldn't bar his recovery as a matter of law. At issue in the appeal...
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Solvent defendant must pay for interpreter

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A solvent, non-English speaking defendant in a criminal case must pay for a defense interpreter, but the court will continue to provide for proceedings interpreters at the public's expense, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court, upholding a previous decision by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The high court granted transfer to Jesus Arrieta v. State of Indiana, No. 10S05-0704-CR-139, to determine whether Arrieta was entitled to a court-funded defense interpreter. Arrieta, who did not speak English, was charged with dealing cocaine, a Class...
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Court: Michigan lawyer to stay away for 2 years

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
An embattled Michigan attorney is barred for two years from taking any new cases in Hoosier courts, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today. Justices issued a per curiam opinion today in disciplinary action In the Matter of Geoffrey N. Fieger, No. 98S00-0609-DI-340, finding the attorney committed misconduct by making material misrepresentations in a sworn application for temporary admission to St. Joseph Circuit Court in late 2005. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justices Theodore Boehm and Robert Rucker agreed on the two-year...
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New federal chief judge for Southern District

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A new chief judge has taken the leadership reins for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.On Jan. 1, U.S. District Judge David F. Hamilton replaced Judge Larry J. McKinney as chief judge, meaning he'll be expected to handle the court's administrative matters and be a chief spokesperson for the court until 2015.During Judge McKinney's seven-year term as chief of the nation's third-busiest District Court, he'd led a court handling 23,000 civil and criminal cases, helped launch an...
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SCOTUS: Lethal injection allowed

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
While lethal injection itself isn't unconstitutional, a ruling today from the U.S. Supreme Court has left open the door for more legal challenges to how states administer the deadly drugs. But on a broader level, the one justice who supported the 1976 decision to reinstate Capital punishment is now in favor of reigniting the debate on the death penalty and striking it down.In a widely splintered 7-2 decision in Baze, et al. v. Rees, et al., No. 07-5439, justices wrote a series...
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Court: Broker must pay back commission

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A broker who breaches his fiduciary duty to disclose material information to a client loses the right to collect a commission for his services, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today. The high court unanimously reversed a trial court decision finding that although a broker breached his fiduciary duty to his client, his commission shouldn't be revoked and be repaid to his client.In Tonda Beth Nichols v. Rex David Minnick and R. David Minnick Inc. d/b/a Commercial Properties, No. 53S01-0711-CV-515, Nichols sued Minnick...
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Court: No sudden heat, no voluntary manslaughter

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court reversed a defendant's conviction of voluntary manslaughter after ruling the trial court erred by instructing the jury about voluntary manslaughter in the absence of evidence of sudden heat. In Andrew Lee Watts v. State of Indiana, No. 45S03-0611-CR-452, Watts appealed his conviction of voluntary manslaughter following a jury trial. The state charged Watts with murder following a tavern shooting, but also had the jury instructed on the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter. At trial, Watts requested jury instructions...
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Defendants can waive appeal right in bargains

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Criminal defendants can waive their right to appeal a trial court's sentencing decision as part of a plea agreement, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.In a unanimous ruling in Timothy Ray Creech v. State of Indiana, No. 35S02-0709-CR-376, justices affirmed a decision from Huntington Circuit Judge Thomas M. Hakes.The case stems from a six-year executed sentence on a child-molesting charge in 2006; Creech had entered a plea agreement that left the sentence up to the trial judge but capped the executed portion...
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Court examines master commissioner statutes

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Footnotes in at least two recent Indiana Court of Appeals decisions show how the appellate court sees state statutes governing the authority master commissioners have in carrying out trial court business.In a published opinion issued today in Denia Baniaga v. State of Indiana, No. 49A04-0801-CR-21, the three-judge panel led by Chief Judge John G. Baker attached a footnote to the first page of the case from Marion Superior Judge Steven Eichholtz and Master Commissioner Patrick Murphy. The master commissioner heard the...
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Delayed COA appeal declared moot

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed an appeal by an election board and political candidates who challenged a candidate's ability to run as an Independent because the candidate had already lost in the election when the appeal finally made it before the appellate court. The appeal, Lake County Board of Elections and Registrations, Myrna Maldonado, Richard Medina, and Juda Parks v. Anthony Copeland, No. 45A04-0710-CV-560, came before the Court of Appeals after the November 2007 election because of an error in the...
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Judge pleads guilty, receives suspension

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Allen Circuit Judge Thomas J. Felts pleaded guilty today in Marion Superior Court to operating a vehicle while intoxicated as a misdemeanor. Marion Superior Judge William Nelson sentenced the judge to one year probation and suspended his driver's license for 90 days, starting tomorrow. The Marion County Prosecutor's Office asked the judge to immediately suspend Judge Felt's driver's license, but Judge Nelson allowed for a one-day delay so that Judge Felts could drive home to Allen County, said Marion County Prosecutor's...
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Chief justice to give annual address

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Indiana Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard will give his annual State of the Judiciary address Wednesday.Next week will mark the 21st time Chief Justice Shepard will give the address since assuming the court's top position in 1987, two years after joining the appellate court. The hour-long annual address starts at 1:30 p.m. in the chambers of the Indiana House of Representatives in Indianapolis.His address typically includes a discussion of the state courts' ongoing projects, accomplishments in the past year, and future...
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High court grants transfer in molestation case

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court has granted transfer in a case to determine whether a defendant's convictions were unfairly affected by taped interviews played at trial. In Brian Tyler v. State of Indiana, No. 69A04-0702-CR-120, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld Tyler's convictions of vicarious sexual gratification and two counts of felony child molesting, as well as finding his sentence was appropriate. Tyler had exposed himself to five children in his care and touched one of the young girls. He also had the...
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Hospital duty to patients case granted transfer

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer Thursday to a case in which judges were split on the duty a hospital owed to patients to prevent possible harm by refusing to release them to a suspected abuser.The high court agreed to take Ava McSwane and Danielle Hays v. Bloomington Hospital and Healthcare System and Jean M. Eelma, M.D., No. 53A04-0705-CV-243, to decide what duty Bloomington Hospital owed to Ava McSwane's daughter, Malia Vandeneede, once it suspected Vandeneede came to the hospital with injuries...
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Chief PD: No one forced me out

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
The top public defender in Marion County said he wasn't forced to leave the agency for any reason, though he does worry that politics could play into the naming of his successor.Indiana Lawyer put the question to David E. Cook after reading a posting on Ruth's Blog, a Web log devoted to news and commentary. The posting claimed that Cook was forced from his job for political reasons.While Cook is cognizant that his position is a political one and attempts have...
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COA to travel to Wabash College

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals will hear arguments Feb. 26 at Wabash College in Crawfordsville. Judges Patricia Riley, James Kirsch, and Melissa May will hear the appeal from Monroe Circuit Court of H.D., et al. v. BHC Meadows Hospital, Inc. at 3 p.m. In this appeal, the court is asked to decide whether the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act requires a juvenile and his or her parents to bring claims from a breach of patient confidentiality before a medical review panel prior...
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Conspiracy, false statements convictions stand

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the convictions of participating in a price-fixing conspiracy and making false statements to federal law enforcement of an Indianapolis man involved in a concrete price-fixing scheme. In United States of America v. Christopher A. Beaver, No. 07-1381, Beaver appealed his convictions, arguing the government failed to prove at trial a price-fixing conspiracy existed, that he joined the conspiracy, or that he made false statements. Beaver, as operations manager of Beaver Materials Corp., was one of...
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Appeals court to visit Marion, Vigo counties

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Indiana Court of Appeals continues to travel around the state this month, making stops in Marion and Vigo counties Tuesday. Judges Patricia Riley, James Kirsch, and Margret Robb will hear arguments in Gary and Katherine Hoesman v. Daniel Sheffler, et al., No. 77A01-0708-CV-385, at 10:30 a.m. in the Cecilian Auditorium in the Conservatory of Music Building at the St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in Vigo County. In this case, a trust's beneficiaries discovered the trust administrator had converted funds for her personal...
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District Court didn't err in Franks hearing

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a defendant's drug conviction following a Franks hearing, affirming the U.S. District Court's decision to reconsider one of its findings and to not compel the government to identify the confidential informant in the case. The case of United States of America v. Antone C. Harris, No. 07-1315, made its way back to the 7th Circuit after the federal appellate court originally remanded the case to the United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis...
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Aspiring attorneys general face off: Other campaigns get the spotlight, but this one deserves a closer look

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
With at least two very closely watched races in Indiana - governor and president - and multiple political theories about how either race will go, there's bound to be less attention paid to some of the other candidates. But with Republican Gregory Zoeller and Democrat Linda Pence up for the attorney general post and the incumbent Steve Carter not running, this race is worth another look. At stake is the oversight of the state attorney general's office, basically a very large...
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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. 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.

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

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