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Opinions Aug. 26, 2014

August 26, 2014
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Roy Smith v. Richard Brown
12-3731
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division.
Judge James T. Moody
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Smith’s habeas petition. Finds although Smith’s counsel appeared to be particularly deficient, Smith failed to demonstrate how his lawyer’s substandard effort prejudiced his case since there was overwhelming evidence against him.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Lamont Carpenter v. State of Indiana
02A05-1309-CR-467
Criminal. Affirms convictions of five counts of Class A felony dealing in cocaine, Class B felony unlawful possession of a handgun by a serious violent felon, Class C felony possession of a handgun with altered identifying marks, and Class D felony possession of marijuana. Finds that as the jury was not aware Carpenter was a serious violent felon, he was not prejudiced by the partial  bifurcation of his trial. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting mail with his name and address taken during a search of his home because it was not hearsay, and Carpenter was not subjected to double jeopardy when he was convicted of possession of a firearm by an SVF and possession of a handgun with altered identifying marks.

In re the Marriage of: Wade R. Meisberger v. Margaret Bishop f/k/a Margaret Meisberger
39A01-1402-DR-76
Domestic relation. Remands trial court order on all pending issues denying Wade Meisberger’s motion to modify parenting time and motion to correct error, instructing the trial court to make necessary findings in order to restrict father’s parenting time such that parenting time for father, now incarcerated, might endanger his son’s physical health or significantly impair his emotional development.

Daryl Schweitzer and Lynn Schweitzer v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company and Jennifer Gholson Insurance Agency
45A03-1307-CT-248
Civil tort. Affirms entry of summary judgment in favor of defendants, finding the Schweitzers were not entitled to additional payments under their homeowner’s insurance policy after a fire destroyed their home and insurance provided total payments of $326,040 for the dwelling.

Jeffrey Crider v. Christina Crider
53A05-1307-DR-358, 53A04-1401-DR-26
Domestic relation. Reverses decision to automatically vest “ownership and control” in stocks and membership interests of Jeff Crider upon his failure to pay a $4.7 million equalization judgment within 180 days. Affirms order he pay Christina Crider that equalization judgment, plus interest accruing after 90 days and to pay any attorney fees she incurs in collecting the judgment. Finds the trial court’s decision to modify his child support obligation after an appeal had been initiated in this case is void and the child support obligation remains at $308 per week. Remands for further proceedings. Affirms in all other respects.

Steven Anderson v. State of Indiana
49A02-1309-CR-788
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony escape for violation of home detention, holding that the court did not err by admitting evidence of events preceding Anderson’s arrest, including evidence from the company that monitored his ankle bracelet showing he was not in his home after he was required to be.   

Ann Withers v. State of Indiana
48A02-1403-CR-130
Criminal. Affirms termination of placement in drug court program and order reinstating an executed 5-year, 6-month prison sentence for convictions of Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine, Class D felony possession of two or more chemical reagents or precursors, and Class D felony neglect of a dependent. The trial court was authorized to take judicial notice of electronically signed attendance reports showing Withers had missed multiple mental health appointments, and it did not abuse its discretion in terminating her participation in drug court.  

State of Indiana v. Brandon Scott Schulze
73A01-1311-CR-471
Criminal. Reverses the trial court’s order reinstating Schulze’s driving privileges. Schulze, who was barred from driving after he refused to take a chemical test for alcohol intoxication, argued the suspension of his license was invalid because the arresting officer was not certified to administer the chemical test. The COA finds Schulze’s argument fails because state statute does not require the arresting officer to be trained to perform a chemical test and, if Schulze had agreed to submit to the test, the officer could have found a qualified person to give the test.   

Louise Frontz, Guardian of the Person and Estate of Brian O'Neal Frontz, and Brian Frontz v. Middletown Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Sinclair Glass
05A04-1307-PL-364
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment for Middletown Enterprises. Finds although Frontz was a temporary worker assigned to Middletown, the company was his joint employer along with the temp agency. Therefore, Frontz cannot file a lawsuit against Middletown seeking remedy for his severe injuries but can only file a workers’ compensation claim against the company.

Lawrence Mulry v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1312-CR-1035
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.

Jose B. Rodriguez v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A05-1309-CR-491
Criminal. Affirms convictions of four counts of Class A felony child molesting. Finds although the trial court did abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of extra-jurisdictional prior bad acts, the error was harmless.

In re the Marriage of: Robin D. (Hanson) Blankenship and James E. Hanson, James E. Hanson v. Robin D. (Hanson) Blankenship (NFP)
41A05-1310-DR-511
Domestic relation. Affirms denial of James Hanson’s petition to modify child support and granting of Robin Blankenship’s verified petition for rule to show cause, holding Hanson in contempt based on his child support arrearage. Judge James Kirsch dissents. He argues the trial court did abuse its discretion in denying the modification and recommends the court reverse the order and remand with instructions to enter a new child support order.

Leroy Shoaff v. Denisa Dekker (NFP)
45A05-1401-CT-43
Civil tort. Affirms judgment for $386,000 against Shoaff for his fault in a 2007 motor vehicle accident that injured Dekker’s knee.

Fernando Miranda v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1401-CR-10
Criminal. Affirms convictions for Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement and Class B misdemeanor public intoxication.

Orange County v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Daniel Harris (NFP)
93A02-1403-EX-144
Civil. Affirms the Review Board of the Department of Workforce Development’s determination that Orange County did not file a timely appeal to the decision that Harris was eligible for unemployment benefits.

Destiny Skeen v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Hub Restaurant LLP (NFP)
93A02-1401-EX-57
Civil. Reverses decision by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that Skeen was discharged for just cause. Concludes the Review Board decision was not supported by substantial evidence.
 

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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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