Courts

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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Federal judge won't overturn jury verdict

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
Ruling on his first jury trial as a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen declined to overturn a jury verdict in favor of a fired East Chicago worker who'd claimed she lost her job for political reasons.In an eight-page ruling on Aug. 1 in Blanca I. Camacho v. George Pabey, et al., No. 2:05-cv-456, Judge Van Bokkelen ruled that a reasonable jury had evidence to find in favor of Camacho and award her $250,000.Camacho was a restaurant inspector when...
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Social Security doesn't go toward threshold

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Social Security benefits can't be counted toward the threshold amount of benefits that a person has to get in order to be eligible for benefits from Indiana's Second Injury Fund, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.The court tackled the issue of first impression in James Kohlmeyer v. Second Injury Fund, No. 93A02-0711-EX-1000, in which James Kohlmeyer argued Social Security benefits he received after becoming permanently totally disabled as a result of a work accident should count toward the threshold dictated under...
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Justices: Act doesn't allow interest

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Interest may not be calculated on workers' compensation benefits, including past-due medical bills, because Indiana legislation doesn't expressly allow for it, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled today. In Christopher R. Brown, D.D.S., Inc. v. Decatur County Memorial Hospital, No. 93S02-0711-EX-561, Dr. Christopher Brown appealed the decision by the full Workers' Compensation Board that he was not entitled to interest on past-due medical bills incurred from his treatment of a patient who was receiving workers' compensation benefits from Decatur County Memorial Hospital. Indiana's...
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COA mulls 'fraud' in paternity affidavit statute

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A man's paternity cannot be revoked three years after he and the child's mother fraudulently signed an affidavit establishing that he's the legal father, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.The court's unanimous ruling paves the way for a possible Indiana Supreme Court interpretation of this particular state statute, which this appellate panel believes was designed to protect a man's paternal rights in the event he was defrauded - not when he was the one doing the deception along with the...
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Lawyer suspended for conversion, lying

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court suspended a Vanderburgh County attorney today for at least three years for committing what the court describes as the most serious of ethical breaches.The court came to its decision In the matter of: Douglas W. Patterson, No. 82S00-0402-DI-90, as a result of Douglas Patterson's conversion of client funds, deceit in concealing his misconduct, and dishonesty with the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission.Patterson was an associate at a law firm which maintained a trust account. In 1999, Patterson and...
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Judges disagree on registration by homeless

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana Court of Appeals judges disagreed today in an opinion in which the majority ruled that a man who claimed he was temporarily homeless should be charged with violating the Indiana statute that requires registered sex offenders to provide their new address to authorities within seven days of a move. One judge dissented, saying their ruling would make homelessness a crime.Judges L. Mark Bailey and Ezra Friedlander affirmed Daniel J. Milliner's conviction for failing to register as a sex offender and...
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Head Start considered a school

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
Teachers who work for a federally funded program to help children prepare for kindergarten are not eligible under Indiana statute for unemployment during summer breaks, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. In South Bend Community School Corporation v. Linda D. Lucas, No. 93A02-0705-EX-387, the majority of judges agreed with South Bend that Head Start institutions should be considered schools under Indiana statute and therefore, its teachers are not allowed to collect unemployment during the summer. Lucas works as a teacher at...
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License revocations stayed for now

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked the state from revoking driver's licenses that don't match Social Security records.The preliminary injunction came June 6 in a case challenging the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles' invalidations of licenses or identification cards on the sole basis of mismatched records.The decision comes in Lyn Leone, et al. v. Indiana BMV Commissioner, No. 49A02-0804-CV-00377, which is currently pending in the state's second highest appellate court and is at the briefing stage...
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State files suit against mortgage lender

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter has filed a lawsuit against mortgage lender Countrywide Home Loans Inc. for questionable practices, making Indiana the fifth state to take action against the largest lender in the country. The suit, No. 76C01-0808-PL-652, was mailed to Steuben Circuit Court Aug. 22 and filed the same day. The suit, which includes Countrywide's parent company, Countrywide Financial Corporation, alleges the company engaged in deceptive and misleading practices that put borrowers in potentially risky and costly loans. Carter's investigation...
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High court clarifies evidence designation

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court upheld a trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of a defendant and also clarified the designation of evidence in regards to Indiana Trial Rule 56(C). In Idan (John) Filip and Valaria Filip v. Carrie Block and 1st Choice Insurance Agency, No. 75S05-0704-CV-149, the Filips filed a suit against Block and 1st Choice, alleging negligence in the selection of insurance on an apartment building they purchased in 1999. Block was the insurance agent of the previous owner,...
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Justices: 'Three Strikes Law' unconstitutional

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
A four-year-old state statute aimed at limiting frivolous lawsuits filed by prison inmates is unconstitutional because it effectively closes the courthouse doors altogether for certain people, a split Indiana Supreme Court ruled today.Three of the five justices - Justices Theodore Boehm, Robert Rucker, and Brent Dickson - agreed that the state's 2004 "Three Strikes Law" violates the Indiana Constitution's Open Courts Clause. Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan disagreed and observed their colleagues' decision means many Hoosier litigants...
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AG won't appeal sex-offender law ruling

January 1, 2008
IL Staff
The Office of Indiana Attorney General won't appeal a federal court's decision last month that ruled a law requiring sex offenders to allow for blanket consent of computer and home searches is unconstitutional. Instead of appealing, Attorney General Steve Carter said in a press release Thursday that the office will work with legislators this fall to create a law that will protect children from Internet predators but would not violate the Constitution. Carter also cited the cost to taxpayers as a...
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Judges: Dispute can be arbitrated

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
A union and the owner of the facility the union wants to organize can proceed to arbitration to decide whether the facility is a covered workplace under an agreement requiring neutrality, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today. In United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union v. TriMas Corporation, No. 07-1688, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (USW) brought an action in federal...
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President chooses magistrate for judgeship

January 1, 2008
Michael Hoskins
President George W. Bush has nominated an Indianapolis federal magistrate to replace Judge John D. Tinder who recently took a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.The president on Thursday sent a nomination to the Senate for Magistrate Judge William T. Lawrence, who's been on the federal bench since November 2002. Magistrate Judge Lawrence was one of seven nominations sent, including nominations for the U.S. Tax Court. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar recommended the Indianapolis magistrate for the position."I have known...
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Court upholds damages award against doctor

January 1, 2008
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a damages award to the parents of a stillborn child against a doctor, finding the trial court properly excluded opinion testimony from two treating doctors and a letter written to those doctors before the trial by the parents' attorney. In Jeffrey L. Cain, M.D. v. Richard Back and Suzette Back, No. 20A03-0705-CV-225, Dr. Jeffrey L. Cain appealed the trial court judgment of $800,000 in damages to Richard and Suzette Back on their claim of medical malpractice.The...
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Application of residency law unconstitutional

January 1, 2008
Rebecca Berfanger
  The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld a lower court's ruling that in at least one case of the state's application of a law prohibiting violent and child sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school or public area where children congregate is unconstitutional.The ruling came in State of Indiana v. Anthony W. Pollard, No. 05A02-0707-CR-640. Judges heard arguments in the case March 31. The state argued that Indiana Code Section 35-42-4-11 was not considered ex post facto...
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  3. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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