Opinions March 13, 2012

March 13, 2012
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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline yesterday:

In the Matter of: Carl J. Brizzi
Disciplinary. Supreme Court issued a public reprimand for former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, finding that he violated Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 3.6(a) and 3.8(f) by making public statements as a prosecutor that had a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding and a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the criminal defendants. Court rules that “actual prejudice” is not required and court defines “public record” as government documents, such as probable cause affidavits.

Today’s opinions:

Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Tax Court had filed no opinions by IL deadline.

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Shannon McComas v. Edward Brickley
United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Sarah Evans Barker.
Civil. Reverses District Court’s denial of Brickley’s motion for summary judgment. McComas filed suit against Brickley for false arrest after the charges against McComas were dropped.
But Brickley claimed that he had probable cause to arrest McComas and qualified immunity in his role as a police officer. The 7th Circuit agreed and held the District Court erred in its determination of qualified immunity. It remanded with instructions consistent with its opinion.

Julie A. Smith v. Lafayette Bank & Trust Company
United States District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge Jon E. DeGuilio.
Civil. Affirms grant of summary judgment against Smith in her claim that Lafayette Bank & Trust retaliated against her for filing an age discrimination complaint under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, holding that Smith was unable to show that the bank administrators who terminated her were ever aware that she filed a charge of discrimination, and that she filed that charge five months after she was terminated.

Indiana Court of Appeals
The Guardianship of Harold G. Gardner, Scott A. Gardner, Guardian v. Carl Prochno
Civil plenary. Affirms grant of summary judgment in favor of Prochno, holding that per Indiana Code 32-31-1, the Gardners did not provide in a timely manner a notice to terminate tenancy of farm land.

Kenneth Akers v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms convictions of and sentences for battery, resisting law enforcement and possession of paraphernalia, all Class A misdemeanors. Akers raised one question for review: Whether Indiana Code 35-50-1-2 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution or Article 1, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution because the statute limits the imposition of consecutive sentences when someone is convicted of at least one felony, but no such statute exists limiting the imposition of consecutive sentences for those convicted of only misdemeanors. But the COA held that Akers’ offenses were separate and distinct, and therefore IC 35-50-1-2 does not apply.

Alfred Taylor v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms court’s revocation of probation and order that Taylor serve 1,825 days of his previously suspended sentence.

Ralph Winfrey v. NLMP, Inc. and Witham Health Services (NFP)

Civil plenary. Reverses grant of summary judgment in favor of NLMP and Witham Health Services, holding that the court erred in determining Winfrey’s claims were based on speculation. Remands for further proceedings.

Matthew G. Fearnow v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Vacates Fearnow’s conviction of Class B misdemeanor harassment and remands for new trial, holding that the trial court did not adequately advise him of the risks of proceeding pro se. Affirms trial court’s grant of the state’s second motion to amend charging information, holding the location where harassing phone messages were received did not affect Fearnow’s rights.

Matthew Jordan v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms sentence for four counts of Class C felony forgery.

Rondell Walker v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms Walker’s termination from the Howard County Drug Court program and the sentence imposed on his underlying conviction of Class B felony possession of cocaine.

Douglas R. Denmure, Personal Rep. of the Estate of Eugene D. Trester, Deceased v. Michael S. Gridley, Personal Rep. of the Estate of Alice F. Grindley, Deceased (NFP)
Estate supervised. Reverses trial court’s order approving the personal representative’s accounting, supplemental accounting, petition for order approving distribution, and closing the estate, holding Denmure has established prima facie error. Remands for further proceedings, including a consideration of Denmure’s request for additional attorney fees pursuant to the terms of the mediated settlement agreement.

Joshua Love v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony escape and adjudication as a habitual offender.

Elwin Hart v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Criminal. Affirms convictions of murder.

Aaron Lee v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Reverses Lee’s convictions of Class B felony criminal confinement and Class C felony intimidation, holding  the court’s instructions did not adequately instruct the jury on the presumption of innocence. Remands for new trial.

T.W. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Juvenile. Affirms adjudication as a delinquent child for committing two counts of battery that would be Class A misdemeanors if committed by an adult.

Michael Jones v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms 18-year sentence with three years suspended for Class B felony neglect of a dependent, holding that in light of Jones’ previous conviction of neglect, the sentence was not inappropriate.


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  1. This new language about a warning has not been discussed at previous meetings. It's not available online. Since it must be made public knowledge before the vote, does anyone know exactly what it says? Further, this proposal was held up for 5 weeks because members Carol and Lucy insisted that all terms used be defined. So now, definitions are unnecessary and have not been inserted? Beyond these requirements, what is the logic behind giving one free pass to discriminators? Is that how laws work - break it once and that's ok? Just don't do it again? Three members of Carmel's council have done just about everything they can think of to prohibit an anti-discrimination ordinance in Carmel, much to Brainard's consternation, I'm told. These three 'want to be so careful' that they have failed to do what at least 13 other communities, including Martinsville, have already done. It's not being careful. It's standing in the way of what 60% of Carmel residents want. It's hurting CArmel in thT businesses have refused to locate because the council has not gotten with the program. And now they want to give discriminatory one free shot to do so. Unacceptable. Once three members leave the council because they lost their races, the Carmel council will have unanimous approval of the ordinance as originally drafted, not with a one free shot to discriminate freebie. That happens in January 2016. Why give a freebie when all we have to do is wait 3 months and get an ordinance with teeth from Day 1? If nothing else, can you please get s copy from Carmel and post it so we can see what else has changed in the proposal?

  2. Here is an interesting 2012 law review article for any who wish to dive deeper into this subject matter: Excerpt: "Judicial interpretation of the ADA has extended public entity liability to licensing agencies in the licensure and certification of attorneys.49 State bar examiners have the authority to conduct fitness investigations for the purpose of determining whether an applicant is a direct threat to the public.50 A “direct threat” is defined as “a significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by a modification of policies, practices or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services as provided by § 35.139.”51 However, bar examiners may not utilize generalizations or stereotypes about the applicant’s disability in concluding that an applicant is a direct threat.52"

  3. We have been on the waiting list since 2009, i was notified almost 4 months ago that we were going to start receiving payments and we still have received nothing. Every time I call I'm told I just have to wait it's in the lawyers hands. Is everyone else still waiting?

  4. I hope you dont mind but to answer my question. What amendment does this case pretain to?

  5. Research by William J Federer Chief Justice John Marshall commented May 9, 1833, on the pamphlet The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States written by Rev. Jasper Adams, President of the College of Charleston, South Carolina (The Papers of John Marshall, ed. Charles Hobson, Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2006, p, 278): "Reverend Sir, I am much indebted to you for the copy of your valuable sermon on the relation of Christianity to civil government preached before the convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Charleston, on the 13th of February last. I have read it with great attention and advantage. The documents annexed to the sermon certainly go far in sustaining the proposition which it is your purpose to establish. One great object of the colonial charters was avowedly the propagation of the Christian faith. Means have been employed to accomplish this object, and those means have been used by government..." John Marshall continued: "No person, I believe, questions the importance of religion to the happiness of man even during his existence in this world. It has at all times employed his most serious meditation, and had a decided influence on his conduct. The American population is entirely Christian, and with us, Christianity and Religion are identified. It would be strange, indeed, if with such a people, our institutions did not presuppose Christianity, and did not often refer to it, and exhibit relations with it. Legislation on the subject is admitted to require great delicacy, because freedom of conscience and respect for our religion both claim our most serious regard. You have allowed their full influence to both. With very great respect, I am Sir, your Obedt., J. Marshall."