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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. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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