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Opinions Dec. 28, 2010

December 28, 2010
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The following opinions were posted after IL deadline Monday:

Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of Jane G. Cotton
48S00-0910-DI-497
Discipline. Suspends Cotton for 30 days without automatic reinstatement for engaging in attorney misconduct in an improper ex parte communication with a judge and by engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. Justice Sullivan dissents, arguing for at least a 90-day suspension.

Indiana Tax Court
Lake County Assessor, North Township Assessor, et al. v. Amoco Sulfur Recovery Corp., and BP Products North America, Inc. (NFP)
49T10-1010-TA-55
Tax. Denies Amoco and BP’s motion to dismiss.

Today’s opinions

Indiana Supreme Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Richard Childress Jr. v. State of Indiana
45A03-0911-CR-520
Criminal. Affirms convictions of robbery and criminal confinement, both Class B felonies. On appeal, appellant-defendant raised the sole issue of whether the trial court erred in admitting evidence the state did not disclose until the second day of trial. Court of Appeals concluded the state’s late disclosure did not impair his right to a fair trial.

Warren L. Williams, et al. v. David Orentlicher, et al., as Trustees of the Indiana State Teachers Association Insurance Trust
49A02-1003-PL-249
Civil. Affirms trial court’s denial of Warren L. Williams and Robert Frankel’s motion to compel arbitration. Williams and Frankel are former employees of the ISTA. They also acted as fiduciaries with the ISTA Insurance Trust, an entity legally separate and distinct from the ISTA. At issue was whether the Trust was bound by the arbitration provisions of Williams’ and Frankel’s employment agreements with the ISTA.

Cynthia Ann Painter v. Lee Andrew Granderson (NFP)
65A04-1003-DR-203
Civil. Affirms trial court’s order that awarded custody of the parties’ minor daughter, R.K., to appellee-respondent father.

Natasha R. Lafave v. State of Indiana (NFP)
16A01-1006-CR-271
Criminal. Reverses and remands conviction of illegal possession of alcoholic beverages for consumption, a Class C misdemeanor.

Carla Tabor v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1006-CR-358
Criminal. Affirms conviction of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit, a Class D felony; reverses and remands conviction of possession of a controlled substance, a Class D felony.

Richard Huffman v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1008-CR-1057
Criminal. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief related to an educational credit against the release date.

Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of A.P., et al.; K.G. and T.G. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
23A04-1004-JT-334
Juvenile. Affirms trial court’s judgment terminating K.G. and T.G’s parental rights to their children.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at 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.

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