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Opinions March 21, 2012

March 21, 2012
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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinions were posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
LaPorte Community School Corporation v. Maria Rosales
46S04-1105-CT-284
Civil tort. Reverses and remands for a new trial on the issue of liability only. One of the jury instructions given by the trial court could have misled the jury about a key issue regarding liability in this child wrongful death case. Justice Sullivan dissents.

Randall L. Woodruff, Trustee, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, on Behalf of Legacy Healthcare, Inc.d/b/a New Horizon Develop. Center v. In. Family & Social Serv. Admin., Office of Medicaid Policy & Planning
29S02-1110-PL-598
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court finding that FSSA breached its contract with respect to the remaining pre-decertification claims and awarded New Horizon $93,666.09. It also allowed FSSA an equal amount as a set-off for the receivership costs.

Wednesday’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Indiana Tax Court  posted no opinions by IL deadline.


Indiana Supreme Court
State of Indiana v. International Business Machines Corporation
49S00-1201-PL-15
Civil plenary. Holds that Indiana Code 34-29-2-1 – providing that the governor of the state of Indiana is “privileged from arrest on civil process, and from obeying any subpoena to testify” – operates to preclude a trial court from issuing an order to compel the governor’s deposition in a contract dispute brought by the state of Indiana against a contractor. Justice Sullivan concurs in result.

John Witt, HydroTech Corp, and Mark Shere v. Jay Petroleum, Inc., and Jack R. James
38S02-1110-CV-608
Civil. Affirms trial court order holding John Witt, HydroTech Corp. and attorney Mark Shere in contempt of court for violating the terms of a temporary restraining order. The court order was sufficiently clear and certain to unambiguously direct the cessation of all further activities by Witt, Shere, and Hydrotech at the site. Justices Rucker and Sullivan dissent.

Marion County Auditor, and McCord Investments, LLC v. Sawmill Creek, LLC a/k/a Saw Creek Investments, LLC
49S02-1106-CV-364
Civil. Reverses trial court decision to set aside the tax deed on grounds that the auditor’s effort to notify Sawmill Creek of the tax sale was constitutionally deficient for failing to meet the requirements of due process. The auditor satisfied the due process requirement articulated in Mullane, Dusenbery and Flowers. Justice Rucker dissents.     

Rodney Nicholson v. State of Indiana
55S01-1107-CR-444
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony stalking. Holds that the lag in time between the harassing calls in 2006 and the subsequent single call in 2008 didn’t foreclose the conviction for stalking, particularly since much of the break in time between the calls was due to Nicholson’s incarceration.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Michael J. Griffin v. State of Indiana
53A05-1106-CR-288
Criminal. Affirms murder conviction but revises Griffin’s sentence to 45 years. The state produced sufficient evidence to negate Griffin’s claim that he was acting in sudden heat when he killed the victim, and the reckless homicide instruction was properly refused.

Kristine Bunch v. State of Indiana
16A05-1007-PC-439
Post conviction. Reverses denial of petition for post-conviction relief and remands for a new trial. The fire victim toxicology evidence does constitute newly discovered evidence and the state’s failure to turn over a report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms testing of floor samples violates Brady. Judge Crone dissents.

Bill Musgrave v. Squaw Creek Coal Co. and Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources
49A05-1104-MI-164
Miscellaneous. Affirms order in favor of Squaw Creek Coal Co. and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on SCCC’s petition for judicial review on an order issued by the Indiana Natural Resources Commission administrative law judge vacating the DNR’s decision to release certain portions of SCCC’s reclamation bond on its surface mining permit. The trial court did not err by refusing to dismiss SCCC’s petition even though it did not pay a filing fee and SCCC’s process and service was sufficient. The trial court was correct to conclude that Musgrave is not collaterally estopped from challenging the release of the bond on Permit S-008.

Jody Brewster v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1109-CR-450
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony theft.

John W. Kimbrough v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A04-1106-CR-328
Criminal. Affirms four convictions of Class A felony child molesting. Reverses sentencing order and remands to the trial court to enter a sentence as outlined in the opinion. Judge Mathias concurs in part and dissents in part.


 

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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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