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Opinions June 13, 2014

June 13, 2014
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Indiana Supreme Court
The following opinion was issued after IL deadline Thursday.

Randy L. Knapp v. State of Indiana
28S00-1305-LW-327
Criminal. Affirms in all respects the murder conviction and life without parole sentence for Randy L. Knapp in the killing of Stacey Lawson. The court rejected Knapp’s claims that crime scene photos and expert witness testimony were improperly admitted and that his sentence wasn’t supported by evidence or was inappropriate in light of his character and nature of his offense.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Brian S. Moore v. Kristy L. Moore
49A04-1310-DR-499
Domestic relation. Reverses contempt finding against Brian Moore and 30-day suspended jail sentence. The trial court improperly denied his request for the appointment of counsel. Remands for the trial court to determine if he is indigent and, if so, to appoint counsel to represent him at a new contempt hearing.

Robert L. Slone v. State of Indiana
17A03-1312-CR-496
Criminal. Affirms 24-year sentence after Robert L. Slone pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary in two separate causes. The fact that the state chose to join charges for trial does not prove that Slone’s criminal actions arose from a single episode of criminal conduct, therefore, the court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing.

In the Matter of the Adoption of M.S.; C.L.S., v. A.L.S.
20A03-1306-AD-217
Adoption. Affirms trial court’s order granting stepmother’s petition to adopt minor daughter, M.S. Rejects mother’s argument that the trial court’s calculation of her child support arrearage as the equivalent of one year of missed payments was improper. Concludes that interpreting Indiana statute as meaning a parent must fail to pay child support for one entire calendar year could lead to absurd consequences. Also finds the adoption was in M.S.’s best interests.

Jonathan Stephens v. State of Indiana

85A02-1306-CR-518
Criminal. Affirms Class C felony criminal confinement conviction. There is sufficient evidence to support the conviction; Stephens’ attorney did not provide ineffective assistance; and, although the prosecutor made one improper remark during closing arguments, Stephens could not prove fundamental error. Remands with instructions for trial court to correct the sentencing order, abstract of judgment and chronological case summary to reflect that an 8-year habitual offender enhancement serves as an enhancement of the criminal confinement conviction.

Randolph Kelley v. State of Indiana and Paige A. Devlin
02A03-1308-CR-329
Criminal. Affirms trial court order awarding Devlin a $50,000 credit toward restitution in Kelly’s favor. The criminal court did not commit reversible error when it granted Devlin a credit toward the restitution order based on her insurer’s payment of damages pursuant to a civil settlement to satisfy the criminal court’s restitution order of $59.974.87 for injuries Kelley suffered as a result of Devlin operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Lakhvir Singh v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A02-1309-CR-761
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class B felony rape, Class B felony attempted criminal deviate conduct, Class D felony sexual battery, Class D felony strangulation and Class A misdemeanor domestic battery.

Dena Alfayyad v. U.S. Bank National Association as Trustee for RASC 2007KS3 (NFP)
29A02-1307-MF-652
Mortgage foreclosure. Affirms summary judgment in favor of U.S. Bank National Association.

In the Matter of: A.H., Jb.H., and Je.H., Children in Need of Services, C.P. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
34A05-1401-JC-1
Juvenile. Affirms adjudication of children in need of services.

Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Tax Court issued no opinions Friday by IL deadline. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued no Indiana opinions Friday by IL deadline.
 

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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  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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