Opinions Jan. 21, 2011

January 21, 2011
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Maria Tara Sutherland v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge William T. Lawrence.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment in favor of Wal-Mart on Sutherland’s hostile work environment and negligent infliction of emotional distress claims. She did not present evidence that would allow a jury to conclude Wal-Mart is liable for the assault committed against her by Aguas.

Indiana Supreme Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Robert Hollis, et al. v. Defender Security Company
Civil plenary. Affirms dismissal of Hollis’ wage claims brought under the Wage Payment Statute. An employee’s status at the time he or she files the claim is the relevant inquiry in determining whether to proceed under the Wage Payment Statute or the Wage Claims Statute. Robert was involuntarily separated from Defender Security Co. when he filed his claims, so they fell under the Wage Claims statute. Because he didn’t allege any Wage Claims Statute violations and submit his claim to the Department of Labor, the trial court properly dismissed his claims.

Darren Matlock v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Where the possibility exists that a defendant accused of OWI may at some point in the future regain competency and be released back into society, and when that release also may include the defendant driving, the state may pursue an OWI conviction even if the defendant’s incompetency caused he or she to be detained for a period in excess of the maximum possible sentence for OWI.

Benjamin H. Steinberg v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and 65-year sentence for murder. There was no reversible error in any of the issues Steinberg raised on appeal and his sentence is appropriate.

John P. Osburn v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class D felonies theft and insurance fraud and vacates the Class D felony obstruction of justice conviction and sentence on double jeopardy grounds. There is enough evidence to support his convictions, but a review of the record indicates that the jury likely used the same facts to convict Osburn of both theft and obstruction of justice.

Zachary K. Gootee v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms sentence imposed upon re-sentencing for convictions of four counts of Class C felony forgery, three counts of Class D felony fraud, one count of Class D felony theft, and the determination that Gootee is a habitual offender. The trial court did not abuse its discretion upon re-sentencing by imposing the same aggregate sentence of 24 years and by imposing consecutive sentences.

Brian Bronaugh v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class B felony attempted robbery, Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Class D residential entry, and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license. The trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Bronaugh’s trial counsel’s motion to withdraw and Bronaugh was not denied due process when he was forced to attend the first day of trial wearing his jail clothes.

Jodi McGookin, et al. v. Guidant Corporation, et al.
Civil tort. Affirms denial of motion to correct error, following the trial court ruling in favor of Guidant on the McGookins’ state law complaint following the death of Jodi McGookin’s newborn daughter. The trial court properly found the claims pre-empted by federal law. The label on the pacemaker had been pre-approved by the FDA and Guidant wasn’t required to include additional warnings.

Christopher K. Washington v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms 35-year sentence following guilty plea to Class A felony battery. Washington’s mental illness bears little weight on the analysis of his character and he failed to carry his burden of proving his sentence has met the inappropriateness standard of review.

Brandy Lozier v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation and imposition of four years of Lozier’s previously suspended sentence.

S.R. v. T.R. (NFP)
Domestic relation. Affirms decision to allow father T.R. to have unsupervised parenting time with the parties’ minor children. Holds that trial court’s admonishment concerning any future contempt findings does not violate mother S.R.’s due process rights.

David D. Williams v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for Class B felony burglary and determination that Williams is a habitual offender.

Mark W. Phillips v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony child molesting but reverses sentence imposed on that count. Revises it to 40 years, to be served concurrently with the eight-year sentence previously imposed on Class C felony touching or fondling a 10-year-old child with the intent to arouse or satisfy his own sexual desires or that of the child.

Adoption of T.D.V. and M.B.V.; B.R. v. J.V. (NFP)
Adoption. Affirms denial of stepfather B.R.’s petition to adopt T.D.V. and M.B.V.

Josh R. Crager v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty plea to Class B felony possession of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a public park.

Bonnie Warren v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class C felony burglary and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.

Paternity of B.W.; D.W. v. T.P. (NFP)
Juvenile. Affirms modification of legal and physical custody of B.W. in favor of mother T.P.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.


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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.