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Opinions Jan. 24, 2012

January 24, 2012
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals had posted no Indiana opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Supreme Court
Antoine Hill v. State of Indiana
45S03-1105-PC-283
Post conviction. Holds that the appropriate standard for judging the performance of Post-Conviction Rule 2 counsel is the standard set forth in Baum v. State. Further holds that Post-Conviction Rule 2 counsel in this case did not violate Baum because she represented the defendant in a procedurally fair setting which resulted in a judgment of the court. Justice Sullivan concurs with separate opinion; Justice Rucker dissents.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Jessica Bowling v. State of Indiana
35A04-1107-CR-407
Criminal. Affirms denial of Bowling’s petition for permission to file a belated notice of appeal pursuant to Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 2. The agreement Bowling signed to waive her right to appeal the sentence is valid.

Violet M. Lockett v. Peggy Hoskins a/k/a Peggy J. Smith
49A02-1106-CT-552
Civil tort. Reverses award of attorney fees to Hoskins. Lockett’s claim for negligence was not unreasonable and she made a good faith and rational argument on the merits of the action. Declines Hoskins’ request for appellate attorney fees.

James R. Johnson v. State of Indiana
44A04-1105-PC-264
Post conviction. Reverses denial of petition for post-conviction relief. The trial court erred in accepting Johnson’s guilty plea to Class A felony child molesting because the record shows he pleaded guilty to it at the same time he maintained his innocence. Remands for further proceedings.

Jeremiah Brown v. State of Indiana (NFP)
18A04-1105-PC-309
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

Cordell G. Gage v. State of Indiana (NFP)
02A03-1103-CR-110
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony burglary and determination that Gage is a habitual offender.

In the Matter of the Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: J.W. & C.W. and M.W. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
71A05-1105-JT-278
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of parental rights.

Terry York v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1105-CR-247
Criminal. Reverses York’s Class A felony attempted robbery conviction and remands with instructions to enter judgment of conviction of Class B felony attempted robbery and resentence York accordingly.

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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  5. 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.

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