Court opinions

Parental rights terminations upheld in substitute magistrate cases

October 29, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In a pair of cases before the Indiana Court of Appeals Tuesday, parents argued that their due process rights were violated when a different magistrate reported findings and conclusions to the judge than the magistrate who heard the cases. The magistrate initially on the cases resigned before making reports to the juvenile court.
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Judges uphold penalties against man for falsifying unemployment benefit documents

October 29, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
There is sufficient evidence to support the decision that a man must pay back unemployment benefits he used while working and that the man falsified information in order to receive those benefits, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.
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Man’s defense of necessity argument fails on appeal

October 29, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday that a reasonable jury could find that a man’s actions in trying to prevent his girlfriend from using cocaine were disproportionate to the harm avoided if she had used the drug, thus putting an end to his defense of necessity claim. The judges upheld Gerald Clemons’ possession of cocaine conviction.
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COA: Petitioning court for placement not the same as applying directly

October 29, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals clarified for a defendant its previous conclusion that he never applied for acceptance into a county post-conviction forensic diversion program and affirmed that his petition for judicial review was not proper.
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COA upholds denial of convicted murderer’s motion to dismiss

October 28, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected a man’s argument that murder charges should have been dismissed based on a plea agreement he made with the state, finding no error by the trial court in allowing the jury to decide whether the defendant’s testimony was credible. The plea agreement preventing prosecution for murder would be in effect only if the defendant met certain criteria.
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COA: Admission of prior bad acts was a harmless error

October 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals found that evidence of a defendant’s prior bad acts was not properly admitted at his trial for theft of gasoline, but affirmed his conviction because the admission was a harmless error.
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COA: Admission of evidence of phone number did not affect verdict

October 25, 2013
Because of overwhelming evidence placing the defendant at the scene of a shooting, the admission of additional evidence that before the shooting, a victim made calls to a phone number associated with the shooter did not affect the verdict, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Friday.
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Judges say evidence supports a retrial

October 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Two Indiana Court of Appeals judges granted a man’s petition for rehearing and held that the evidence is sufficient for the state to retry him on criminal recklessness and resisting law enforcement charges.
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Man didn’t prove ex-wife misappropriated child support payments

October 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Sidestepping a question of first impression in a child support case, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the modification of child support due to insufficient evidence. The father in this case believed his ex-wife was using child support money to fund her veterinary practice.
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Former Lake County clerk’s convictions upheld by 7th Circuit

October 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Thomas R. Philpot, the former Lake County clerk convicted of taking more than $24,000 in federal funds earmarked for child support and using that money to pay himself bonuses, will not receive a new trial, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals held this week.
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Overwhelming evidence of guilt trumps defendant’s post-conviction claims

October 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a northern Indiana man’s life without parole sentence for killing a police officer in 1997, finding the post-conviction court did not err when it denied him a new trial.
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COA once again rules guardians have no authority to file for divorce

October 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Indiana law does not allow guardians the ability to petition for the dissolution of marriage on their ward’s behalf, the Indiana Court of Appeals held for the second time in nearly four months. The appeals court reversed the grant of a divorce filed by an incapacitated man’s daughters, who are his co-guardians.
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Court upholds 2-year suspension of teacher’s license

October 24, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
An administrative law judge in the Indiana Department of Education correctly imposed a two-year suspension of a special education teacher’s license, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday. The court found no error in the ALJ’s reliance on a California case when considering whether to revoke or suspend a teaching license.
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Judge: better to assess defendant under mental health law, not criminal one

October 23, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
In a resisting arrest and battery case that drew opinions from each of the sitting judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals panel, Judge Paul Mathias addressed the issue of whether the defendant suffered from a mental illness. He urged law enforcement to consider mental health intervention to treat troubled – but innocuous – conduct instead of relying on criminal law.
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COA finds mechanic's lien statute requires only substantial compliance

October 23, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
The homeowner's lawyer seeks rehearing, arguing that differing names between the pre-lien and mechanic's lien makes the lien invalid.
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7th Circuit blasts lawyers in reinstating malicious prosecution suit

October 22, 2013
Dave Stafford
A man wrongly prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned for the arson of Frankton High School more than 10 year ago was ultimately freed, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday blistered attorneys in a subsequent malicious prosecution lawsuit who successfully argued in the U.S. District Court for dismissal of the man's federal complaint.
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Library may go after contractors for cleanup costs outside building

October 22, 2013
Dave Stafford
A diesel fuel leak in the basement of the main library branch in Fort Wayne spread to neighboring property, leading to more than $490,000 in cleanup bills. The Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday the library may pursue recovery against contractors it argues are responsible for the leak.
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Shares of dissolved corporation is matter to be handled by trial court, COA rules

October 18, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
A dispute between two brothers over corporate shares left from the dissolution of the family business got a rehearing by the Indiana Court of Appeals, but no reversal.
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Location, location, location determines who has burden of proof

October 18, 2013
Marilyn Odendahl
Looking at the distance in the state statute between the description of the offense and a statutory exception, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the defendant had the burden of proof regarding a victim’s age.
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Convincing evidence, conflicting record doom search challenge

October 18, 2013
Dave Stafford
A thief who went from car to car in a hotel parking lot was being watched by a hotel employee, and the credit card and cell phone belonging to guests that police later found on the man was convincing enough that an Indiana Court of Appeals panel discarded claims that the court should have suppressed the result of a search.
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On rehearing, panel rejects double-jeopardy meth conviction claim

October 18, 2013
Dave Stafford
A Shelby County man convicted of possession of methamphetamine and manufacturing was not a victim of double jeopardy, a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals held on Friday.
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Accused molester denied chance to present complete defense

October 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Finding the testimony and evidence a man accused of child molesting wished to present at trial – but was denied by the trial court – was critical to his defense, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed his two molestation convictions.
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Court rules against Menard on roofing company’s lawsuit for payment

October 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals ordered summary judgment entered in favor of a roofing services company on claims of breach of contract against Menard Inc., finding Menard was unable to establish a dispute of material fact as to its right to withhold payment.
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Orbitz contracts with hotels are ‘trade secrets,’ Tax Court rules

October 17, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Tax Court Wednesday granted online travel company Orbitz LLC’s request to place certain documents under seal – including contracts the company has with three Indiana hotels. Judge Martha Wentworth determined that the contracts are trade secrets, so they are not subject to public disclosure.
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Judges disagree on when duty to exercise ordinary care extends to beneficiaries

October 15, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided Tuesday on whether a legal malpractice lawsuit filed by third-party beneficiaries of a will against their relative’s attorney should proceed beyond summary judgment. The case hinged on the interpretation of the “known” requirement outlined in Walker v. Lawson.
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