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Opinions April 22, 2014

April 22, 2014
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Indiana Court of Appeals
Shelly Bailey v. Lance Bailey
25A04-1309-DR-452
Domestic relation. Reverses trial court’s modification of physical custody of the two children. Finds the Parallel Parenting Time Order did not enable the court to modify the children’s custody to joint custody especially since neither parent petitioned for a change in custody. Judge John Baker dissented, writing that, as instructed by the Parallel Parenting Time Order, the trial court was trying to act in the best interest of the children and to prevent any further destructive behavior by the parents.

In the Matter of the Adoption of B.C.H., a Minor
41A04-1308-AD-388
Adoption. Affirms trial court orders denying grandparents’ motion for relief from judgment and motion to correct error that aimed to set aside stepfather’s adoption of 6-year-old B.C.H. Despite having provided care almost exclusively during the child’s first two years, grandparents are not parties required to receive notice and consent to the adoption. Grandparents also had actual knowledge of the proceedings and did not object or attempt to intervene. In a concurring opinion, Judge Paul Mathias would have required stepfather to get grandparents’ consent, but found in this case grandparents cannot pursue a late challenge to the adoption.

Randy E. Black v. State of Indiana
01A04-1310-CR-526
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony forgery, holding that the trial court did not err by not ruling on Black’s pro se request for an early trial and that Black did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. Black, who was serving a sentence in the Department of Correction on unrelated charges, was appointed a public defender at an initial hearing, at which time he told the court he wanted to “file for fast and speedy trial too.” Because a defender had been appointed, that decision was a matter of strategy allocated to defense counsel, and the record does not establish counsel’s assistance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.

State of Indiana, Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and Kent Schroder as Commissioner of Motor Vehicles v. Matthew E. Patty (NFP)
09A02-1311-MI-885
Miscellaneous. Reverses order granting Patty’s petition for issuance of a probationary driver’s license. Finds the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles did notify Patty of his habitual traffic violator status and suspension. Also concludes Patty is ineligible for a probationary license because his license was already suspended for a previous judgment when he was arrested for operating while intoxicated in Hendricks County.

Desmond E. Lewis v. State of Indiana (NFP)
92A05-1306-CR-284
Criminal. Affirms conviction of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in a manner that endangers a person, a Class A misdemeanor.

Corey Bates v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1309-CR-435
Criminal. Affirms conviction for Class C felony forgery.

Conway Jefferson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1309-PC-748
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

The Indiana Supreme Court and the Indiana Tax Court posted no opinions by IL deadline. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals posted no Indiana opinions by IL deadline.

 

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  2. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  3. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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