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Opinions July 21, 2011

July 21, 2011
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Townsquare Media Inc., f/k/a Regent Communications Inc. v. Alan R. Brill, et al.
10-3017, 10-3018
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division, Chief Judge Richard Young.
Civil. The decision of the bankruptcy court to remand a suit to state court – which had been removed to the bankruptcy court after being filed in state court – is unreviewable and Regent’s appeal must be dismissed.

L.V. and Yvette Crawford v. Countrywide Home Loans Inc. d/b/a America’s Wholesale Lender, et al.
10-3135
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division, Chief Judge Philip Simon.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment for Countrywide Home Loans in the Crawfords' suit following their default on their mortgage, eviction from the home, and sale of the home in a sheriff’s sale. The Crawfords did not meet their burden to come forward with specific facts showing that there were genuine issues for trial. Vacates the District Court’s order of Aug. 10, 2010, and remands for the limited purpose of permitting the District Court to enter a new order specifying which aspects of the Crawfords’ complaint were dismissed on jurisdictional grounds and remanding those aspects to the state court from which the case was removed.

Indiana Supreme Court
Glenn Carpenter v. State of Indiana

49S02-1104-CR-198
Criminal. Revises Carpenter’s sentence from 40 years to 20 years following his conviction of Class B felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and being an habitual offender. His sentence is inappropriate given the unaggravated nature of the offense as a whole and his character and past criminal history. Justice Dickson dissents.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Jacqueline Wisner, M.D., and the South Bend Clinic, L.L.P. v. Archie L. Laney
71A03-1007-CT-382
Civil tort. Affirms in part and reverses in part in a negligence action. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Laney’s attorney’s actions did not deprive the defendants of a fair trial or in concluding that the trial court instructions were sufficient to dispel any confusion that may have been caused by Laney’s counsel’s final argument. The trial court didn’t err in finding that no impropriety occurred when a witness spoke to other witnesses before trial. Reverses order denying Laney prejudgment interest. Remands for further proceedings.

James Bellamy v. State of Indiana
49A02-1011-CR-1214
Criminal. Affirms finding Bellamy was in direct criminal contempt. Despite his status as a layperson, the trial court did not err in finding he was in direct contempt of the trial court for showing up late to court after being warned. Any challenge to the error relating to the trial court’s failure to allow him to explain his tardiness was waived.

Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of D.B., et al.; W.B. v. IDCS (NFP)

28A05-1101-JT-22
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of parental rights.

Antonio Jenkins v. State of Indiana (NFP)
68A01-1008-CR-417
Criminal. Grants rehearing to explain more fully why Jenkins waived the issue of the admissibility of certain evidence under Indiana Rules of Evidence Rule 616.

Michael J. Earnest v. State of Indiana (NFP)
50A03-1011-CR-602
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for one count of Class A felony child molesting, reverses second conviction of Class A felony child molesting, and remands for entry of judgment of conviction of one count of incest as a Class B felony and sentencing on that offense.

Marvin M. Willis v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A05-1012-CR-807
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

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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