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Opinions July 9, 2013

July 9, 2013
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The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was handed down after IL deadline Monday:
Debra Leveski v. ITT Educational Services, Inc. and Appeals of: Motley Rice LLP, Plews Shadley Racher & Braun LLP, The Law Offices of Timothy J. Matusheski and Timothy J. Matusheski
12-1369, 12-1967, 12-1979, 12-2008, 12-2891
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Civil. Reverses dismissal of Leveski’s lawsuit against ITT on behalf of the United States pursuant to the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act. Leveski, a former employee of ITT, alleged ITT knowingly submitted false claims to the Department of Education in order to receive funding from federal student financial assistance programs. Also reverses the sanctions imposed against Leveski’s attorneys. Finds her allegations merit further development and are sufficiently distinct from prior public disclosures to give the federal court jurisdiction over her lawsuit. Remands for further proceedings.

Tuesday’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Roger L. Peele v. Clifford Burch, individually and as Portage Police Department Chief, et al.
12-3562
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Magistrate Judge Paul R. Cherry.
Civil. Reverses summary judgment in favor of the city of Portgage and Portage Police Department chief and assistant chief on Peele’s lawsuit that he was transferred out of the detective bureau for talking to a local reporter about the loss of the election by the candidate he supported for mayor. A deposition by a police officer who held the station duty officer position before Peele and the suspicious timing of Peele’s transfer are enough to avoid summary judgment. Remands for further proceedings.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Wayne L. Patton v. State of Indiana
17A05-1210-CR-538
Criminal. Affirms condition of Patton’s probation that prohibits him from accessing websites and computer programs in which children are likely to participate. The condition is reasonable and is neither overbroad or excessively vague because it relates directly to preventing Patton from communicating with children on the Internet.

Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of: R.J. and T.W. (minor children), C.J. (Mother) and K.J. (Father) v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)
15A01-1207-JT-427
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of parental rights.

Larry A. Rowe, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
35A02-1212-CR-1016
Criminal. Affirms 12-year sentence for Class B felony burglary.

Brandon T. Wright v. State of Indiana (NFP)

02A04-1211-CR-609
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.

Steven Gates v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A02-1208-CR-685
Criminal. Affirms denial of request for credit time for the completion of various programs while Gates was in the Marion County jail awaiting trial.

Raymond E. Schakel v. State of Indiana (NFP)
24A01-1301-CR-42
Criminal. Reverses conviction for Class A felony child molesting following guilty plea. Remands for further proceedings.

Phong Tien v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1301-CR-23
Criminal. Affirms sentence for Class D felony theft.

Turf Pro Plus, Inc. v. Indianapolis Department of Public Works, The City-County Council, and The Hon. Greg Ballard (NFP)
49A02-1301-CC-66
Civil collection. Dismisses Turf Pro’s appeal of the grant of the city’s motion to dismiss the company’s complaint regarding contracts to mow grass in city parks.

William Zollinger v. State of Indiana (NFP)

20A03-1211-PC-450
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

In the Matter of the Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of R.E. and D.E. v. Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
20A05-1209-JT-469
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of father’s parental rights.

Eugene Hill v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1210-CR-797
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation and order Hill serve a 180-day sentence in the Marion County jail.

John S. Dillman, Jr. v. Michelle Dillman (NFP)
45A03-1209-DR-388
Domestic relation. Affirms order denying father’s petition to modify custody.

Matthew A. Baugh v. State of Indiana (NFP)
18A05-1210-PC-545
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court posted no opinions by IL deadline.
 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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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