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Opinions Dec. 12, 2013

December 12, 2013
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Indiana Supreme Court
Richard Eric Johnson v. Gillian Wheeler Johnson
49S05-1303-DR-199
Domestic relation. Affirms the trial court order with respect to the calculation of Gillian Johnson’s health insurance premium credit and application of Eric Johnson’s Social Security Retirement benefits. Summarily affirms the Court of Appeals as to the remaining issues. The trial court’s approach was appropriate in light of the flexibility afforded by the Indiana Child Support Guidelines.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Anthony Smith v. State of Indiana
49A05-1304-CR-195
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy for knowingly violating a protective order. Smith was aware of the protective order and knew he could not contact his ex-girlfriend or come over to her home without the police present.

Charity Lindquist v. Cory Lindquist
23A04-1306-DR-277
Domestic relation. Affirms determination that Charity Lindquist was in contempt for denying Cory Lindquist his Christmas 2012 time. Reverses portion of order that determined the children were not allowed to spend any “one on one” unsupervised time with Charity’s boyfriend. There is no evidence that she is an unfit mother or that the boyfriend posed a danger or detriment to the children. Remands for the trial court to craft an order that will not deny Cory the opportunity to exercise additional parenting time in accordance with the guidelines, but also to permit the children to interact with Charity’s boyfriend on an unsupervised basis should she so desire, so long as Cory’s relationship with the children is not undermined or thwarted.

Paul D. Schoolman v. Tamzen L. Schoolman (NFP)
52A02-1304-DR-344
Domestic relation. Affirms distribution of property in dissolution of marriage.

Jacquelyn S. Johnson-Taefi v. Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and AME Cleaning Services, LLC (NFP)
93A02-1306-EX-484
Agency action. Affirms determination that Johnson-Taefi is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Zachariah Brownie v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1301-CR-3
Criminal. Judge Brown writes a dissent from the denial of a petition for rehearing, believing the court should reverse the probation revocation order and remand for a new hearing.

Joseph Rothell v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A02-1303-CR-225
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation and imposition of a portion of Rothell’s previously suspended sentence.

Jeffrey Allen Thomas v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A01-1304-CR-175
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony battery upon a law enforcement officer.

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

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

  4. For some strange reason this story, like many on this ezine that question the powerful, seems to have been released in two formats. Prior format here: http://www.theindianalawyer.com/nominees-selected-for-us-attorney-in-indiana/PARAMS/article/44263 That observed, I must note that it is quite refreshing that denizens of the great unwashed (like me) can be allowed to openly question powerful elitists at ICE MILLER who are on the public dole like Selby. Kudos to those at this ezine who understand that they cannot be mere lapdogs to the powerful and corrupt, lest freedom bleed out. If you wonder why the Senator resisted Selby, consider reading the comments here for a theory: http://www.theindianalawyer.com/nominees-selected-for-us-attorney-in-indiana/PARAMS/article/44263

  5. Why is it a crisis that people want to protect their rights themselves? The courts have a huge bias against people appearing on their own behalf and these judges and lawyers will face their maker one day and answer for their actions.

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