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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.