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Opinions June 22, 2010

June 22, 2010
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The following opinion was posted Monday after IL deadline.
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Medical Assurance Co., Inc. v. Amy Hellman, et al.
08-2887
U. S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge Allen Sharp.
Civil. Medical Assurance appealed the District Court’s stay on the company’s declaratory judgment action. The company asked the court to declare that Dr. Mark Weinberger breached his contract obligations when he disappeared while on vacation and hasn’t been participating in his defense in more than 350 medical malpractice claims. As an insurer, it must show that the breach resulted in actual prejudice by showing that the outcome of the underlying case would have been altered by the insured’s cooperation. The District Court had noted it would be impossible for Medical Assurance to show actual prejudice without interfering with the state court processes, but the Circuit Court disagrees. The Circuit Court wrote that summary judgment is a good tool to examine not only whether Medical Assurance can succeed as a matter of law but also whether this case is a suitable candidate for declaratory relief by allowing the company to go forward with its challenge to its duty to defend. Vacates and remands the case for further proceedings.

Today’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

United States of America v. Vertran Wheaton
09-3171
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division, Judge Theresa L. Springmann.
Criminal. Dismisses appeal of 36-month sentence for violating terms of supervised release. Wheaton admitted having violated the terms, and his counsel filed an Anders brief. The court notes Wheaton didn’t ask to withdraw his admissions but objects only to the sentence and not the revocation of supervised released based on his admissions. Using United States v. Knox, 287 F.3d 667, 670-72 (7th Cir. 2002), the court holds the challenge cannot stand. Grants counsel’s motion to withdraw.

Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of Mandate of Funds; St. Joseph County Commissioners and St. Joseph County Council v. The Hon. Peter J. Nemeth and the St. Joseph Probate Court
71S00-0912-MF-569
Civil. On automatic review pursuant to Trial Rule 60.5(B) and Appellate Rule 61, this is the first case utilizing the 2009 amended procedures of T.R. 60.5. Reverses the dismissal of Mandate 1 directing that the commissioners “shall not sell, assign, or otherwise transfer any interest in the land without the court’s consent” and remands it for trial. Affirms in part and reverses in part Mandate 2 about renovations to the Juvenile Justice Center and Mandate 3 regarding raises in salaries. Affirms the award of attorney fees and remands for a determination and award of the court’s appellate attorney fees. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Rucker concur with author Justice Sullivan. Justice Dickson concurs in part and dissents in part with a separate opinion, with which Justice Boehm concurs.
 
Indiana Court of Appeals
Adam Starr v. State of Indiana
49A04-0912-CR-677
Criminal. Reverses conviction of refusal to identify self, a Class C misdemeanor because Starr did not fall within the purview of the refusal to identify statute.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions and IL deadline.
 

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  1. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  2. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  3. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  4. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  5. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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