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Opinions Feb. 22, 2013

February 22, 2013
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Northeastern Rural Electric Membership Corp. v. Wabash Valley Power Association

12-2037
Vacates preliminary injunction granted by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana, and remands the case to the district court so it may remand it to state court. Found the federal court does not have jurisdiction because the key questions of whether the contract was valid and whether the contract was breached are not questions of federal law.

Indiana Supreme Court
K.W. v. State of Indiana
49S02-1301-JV-20
Juvenile. Affirms Court of Appeals reversal of trial court ruling designating K.W. a delinquent for resisting law enforcement, and orders the delinquency adjudication vacated. Justices held that evidence was insufficient that K.W. acted “forcibly” to resist a school resource officer when he pulled away as the officer was attempting to handcuff him.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Clematine Hollingsworth v. State of Indiana
49A02-1207-CR-617
Criminal. Affirms conviction for Class B misdemeanor public intoxication, holding that an amendment to the statute could not be retroactively applied.

Nathan Carl Gilbert v. State of Indiana
10A05-1204-CR-220
Criminal. Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remands for resentencing of a Kentucky inmate on four counts of burglary, holding he was denied due process at his sentencing hearing when he wasn’t allowed sufficient time to prepare or properly examine his pre-sentence investigation report. The court held that the “anti-shuffling” provision of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers was not violated when Gilbert was returned to Kentucky before his sentencing hearing could be held in Indiana because the proceeding did not constitute a trial as defined under that provision.

Joshua King v. State of Indiana

49A02-1204-CR-351
Criminal. Affirms King’s convictions for Class C felony battery, Class A misdemeanor battery, and Class D felony strangulation and remands for correction of the Abstract of Judgment which incorrectly lists King’s second battery conviction as a Class C felony. Ruled the court did not violate King’s rights under the Confrontation Clause when it admitted testimony given by a police officer based on statements from the victim. Also found the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it admitted recordings of calls of King discussing the crime from jail.

John Kennendy v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1206-CR-450
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony theft.

Shawn W. Nicosin v. William J. Mesaeh and Loretta D. Mesaeh (NFP)

11A01-1207-MI-308
Miscellaneous/grandparent visitation. Reverses and remands the trial court’s grant of visitation of G.N. with her maternal grandparents, holding that the court erred by deviating from the requirements established in In re Guardianship of A.L.C., 902 N.E.2d 343, 356 (Ind. Ct. App. 2009).

Kelvin Hampton v. State of Indiana (NFP)
84A04-1209-CR-483
Criminal. Reverses and remands a denial of request for return of $146 in $1 bills and a photograph seized during a search of his residence, holding there was no indication the state instigated civil forfeiture proceedings.

Kevin Smith v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A04-1205-PC-264
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief on convictions of Class A felony rape and criminal deviate conduct, Class B felony criminal confinement and Class C felony sexual battery.

Pablo C. Gallo v. Sandra Moira Hyland (NFP)
79A02-1207-DR-624
Domestic relations. Reverses and remands the trial court’s distribution of marital property order with instructions that the court follow the statutory presumption of equal distribution of property or set forth its rationale for deviating from it.

The Indiana Tax Court issued no opinions prior to 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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