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Opinions June 28, 2011

June 28, 2011
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Indiana Supreme Court
Randy Horton v. State of Indiana
48S04-1106-CR-386
Criminal. Affirms convictions of child molesting but reverses 324-year sentence and orders it be reduced to an aggregate executed term of 110 years. Enhances one Class A felony conviction to 50 years and orders the 30-year advisory sentence on the remaining Class A felony convictions. Orders the Class C felony convictions to be four years on each count. Remands for the trial court to issue an amended sentencing order.  

Indiana Court of Appeals
Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of D.L., et al.; F.L. and C.B. v. I.D.C.S.
20A05-1009-JT-635
Juvenile. Dismisses appeal by the parents of the termination of parental rights order. The parents’ notices of intent to appeal were not “functionally equivalent” to a notice of appeal and the notices of intent do not serve to initiate the parents’ appeal on the date of filing. Finds no clear error in the decision of the trial court to terminate parental rights.

SJS Refractory Co., LLC, et al. v. Empire Refractory Sales, Inc.
02A04-1004-CT-233
Civil tort. Reverses $158,626 in damages to Empire for converted property that was subsequently returned and $12,600 in damages for certain materials. There is no evidence to support these awards. Reverses award of punitive damages on the breach of fiduciary duty claim. The complaint did not have a request for punitive damages on this claim and no request for these damages was made at trial. Affirms damages awarded to Empire for the converted property and tools not returned and the nearly $80,000 in attorney fees for conversion. Affirms order that Johnson, Salwolke, and SJS jointly and severally pay Empire’s attorneys $100,000. Remands for calculation of damages.

Winston D. Wilson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1012-CR-1302
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class D felony theft and Class B misdemeanor criminal mischief.

Rodney L. Houser v. State of Indiana (NFP)
92A03-1007-CR-399
Criminal. Affirms murder conviction.

Jane Gonzales, et al. v. Mike Fitousis, et al. (NFP)
09A05-1006-CT-375
Civil tort. Affirms jury verdict in favor of Indiana Head that it owed no duty to protect Gonzales’ daughter, who was employed by Indiana Head and killed by a co-worker.

Thomas Lee Keller, et al. v. Daniel Ray Keller (NFP)
17A03-1012-CC-644
Civil collections. Affirms calculation of the amount of tillable acreage as well as the determination that certain personal property should not be subject to the sale by public auction. Affirms calculation of cash rent due on two family farms.

Mark Wheatley v. Utility Trailers of Indianapolis, Inc. (NFP)
49A05-1012-CT-788
Civil tort. Affirms order denying Wheatley’s second motion for leave to amend his complaint against Utility Trailers of Indianapolis.

Ponie Clark v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A03-1006-CR-340
Criminal. Affirms murder conviction.

Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of B.D.; A.D. v. I.D.C.S. (NFP)
52A05-1012-JT-803
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of Q.W., et al.; J.C. v. I.D.C.S. (NFP)
49A05-1010-JT-666
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of parental rights.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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