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Opinions March 7, 2013

March 7, 2013
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Indiana Supreme Court
In Re: Visitation M.L.B.: K.J.R. v. M.A.B.
41S01-1209-MI-556
Miscellaneous. Rules despite the trial court’s ample “best interests” findings, the lack of findings on the other three factors, both standing alone and as compounded by the extensive visitation awarded without those necessary findings, violates Mother’s fundamental right to direct M.L.B.’s upbringing. Remands for a new entry of findings and conclusions revealing the court’s consideration of all four McCune/K.I. factors, without a new hearing.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Joseph Matheny v. State of Indiana
49A04-1207-CR-347
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony auto theft. The police officer did not violate Matheny’s constitutional rights by asking for his address, so there was no error in admitting his statement at trial. The trial court erred in refusing one of Matheny’s tendered jury instructions, but the error was harmless.

Marcus Willis v. State of Indiana

49A02-1208-CR-636
Criminal. Reverses conviction of Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass. The state failed to prove a material element of criminal trespass within the meaning of I.C. 35-43-2-2(a)(1).

In Re The Matter of K.W. and B.W., Children in Need of Services: A.W. v. Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)

32A05-1210-JC-537
Juvenile. Affirms court’s approval of K.W. and B.W. relocating with maternal grandparents to Wisconsin after they were placed with the grandparents following being adjudicated as children in need of services.

Dale Hite v. State of Indiana (NFP)
75A03-1208-CR-355
Criminal. Affirms two convictions of Class B felony resisting law enforcement and sentence.

Kenneth Hunter v. Deborah Goodrich and Paul Goodrich (NFP)
07A05-1205-GU-244
Guardianship. Affirms denial of the Hunters’ petition to remove the Goodriches as P.G.’s guardian and name them as P.G.’s successor guardians.

Q.P. v. State of Indiana (NFP)

79A02-1207-JV-609
Juvenile. Affirms order awarding wardship of Q.P. to the Indiana Department of Correction for housing in a correction facility for children.

Indiana Public Employee Retirement Fund (PERF) v. Robert O. Effner (NFP)
84A05-1208-MI-410
Miscellaneous. Reverses award of PERF benefits to Effner to a date more than four years before he applied for benefits. Remands for proceedings consistent with the opinion.

Victor Ponce v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A04-1208-PC-396
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

Imani Clark v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1208-CR-630
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation.

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationshp of: A.A., S.T., and C.P.; and A.A. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
49A02-1206-JT-511
Juvenile. Affirms involuntary termination of parental rights.

The Indiana Tax Court posted no opinions at IL deadline. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals posted no Indiana decisions by IL deadline.
 

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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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