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Opinions June 29, 2011

June 29, 2011
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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinions were posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
Bruce Lemmon, et al. v. Michael L. Harris
52S02-1011-CV-642
Civil. Reverses trial court judgment granting injunctive relief for Harris by removing his sexually violent predator status. Harris’ status is sexually violent predator by operation of law, and that classification does not violate the Indiana Constitution’s Ex Post Facto Clause or separation of powers provision. Justice Dickson dissents.

Brenda Moore v. State of Indiana
49S04-1101-CR-24
Criminal. Affirms Moore’s conviction of public intoxication as a Class B misdemeanor. Declines request to reverse Moore’s conviction on public policy grounds and she suffered no impingement of any alleged constitutional right to select which beverages to consume. Her accountability under the public intoxication statute doesn’t violate her personal liberty rights under the Indiana Constitution. Justice Rucker dissents.

Today’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals

United States of America v. Brook Abebe
10-3966
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Criminal. Affirms sentence of 300 months in prison following guilty plea to armed bank robbery, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. There was no procedural error in the District Court’s calculation of Abebe’s sentence and his sentence is not substantively unreasonable.

Aaron Smeigh v. Johns Manville Inc.
10-3388
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.
Civil. Affirms summary judgment for Johns Manville on Smeigh’s suit for retaliatory discharge and civil conversion. Smeigh didn’t present sufficient evidence to conclude that he was fired in retaliation for filing workers’ compensation or that JM knowingly exerted unauthorized control over his property. Admonishes Smeigh’s counsel for a portion of the appeal not meeting the standards for presenting and developing arguments on appeal.

Indiana Supreme Court
Indiana Department of Child Services v. A.B.
71S00-1002-JV-156
Juvenile. Reverses trial court order finding Indiana Code sections 31-37-17-1.4, 31-37-18-9(a)-(b), and 31-40-1-2(f) as unconstitutional as violating the separation of powers principle and the “one subject” rule under the Indiana Constitution. The three statues are constitutional. The DCS’ requirement that the child be placed in Indiana rather than out of state was arbitrary and capricious. Upholds Judge Nemeth’s placement of the child at Canyon State Academy and the DCS should pay for the child’s placement.

Citizens State Bank of New Castle v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.
76S03-1009-CV-515
Civil. Reverses summary judgment in favor of Countrywide and Federal National Mortgage Association. Countrywide has failed to demonstrate that it is entitled to the remedy of strict foreclosure. Remands with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of Citizens Bank, and for all relief consistent with this opinion. Justice Sullivan dissents.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Zachery Blackwell v. State of Indiana (NFP)
67A01-1101-CR-98
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class C felony attempted robbery, and Class D felonies criminal confinement and aiding rioting.

James Deloney Jr v. State of Indiana (NFP)

29A02-1010-CR-1227
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony theft.

Christopher Collins v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1010-CR-1157
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for Class D felony theft.

Martin J. Russell v. State of Indiana (NFP)
83A04-1011-CR-671
Criminal. Dismisses appeal of sentence following a plea agreement to six counts of Class C felony theft and three counts of Class D felony theft.

John Chatman v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1005-PC-362
Post conviction. Vacates trial court denial of Chatman’s motion for additional credit time for completion of a substance abuse program while he was in jail awaiting trial and dismisses the appeal.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.
 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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!!!

  5. 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.

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