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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
49S00-0910-DI-425
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.
11-2138
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.
10-3556
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
50A03-1108-PL-385
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
49A05-1106-CR-313
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)
15A04-1109-CR-500
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)

06A01-1103-PL-132
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)
20A03-1107-CR-341
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)
35A04-1108-CR-484
Criminal. Affirms sentence for four counts of Class C felony forgery.

Rondell Walker v. State of Indiana (NFP)
34A02-1101-CR-612
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)
49A02-1109-ES-905
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)
49A02-1107-CR-629
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony escape and adjudication as a habitual offender.

Elwin Hart v. State of Indiana (NFP)

49A02-1107-CR-583
Criminal. Affirms convictions of murder.

Aaron Lee v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1108-CR-784
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)
49A02-1108-JV-832
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)
30A01-1108-CR-378
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. 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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