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Opinions May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014
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The following opinion was issued by the Indiana Tax Court after IL deadline Friday.
Van Buren Township, Madison County, Boone Township, Madison County, The Summitville Fire Protection Territory v. Department of Local Government Finance
49T10-1104-TA-27
Tax. Affirms Department of Local Government Finance denial of creation of the Summitville Fire Protection Territory because of defects in a legal advertisement to provide notice of a public hearing at which two townships proposed creation of the fire district and its authority to levy taxes. The court rejected arguments that each township published notice of the meeting on the same day in the same newspaper, so therefore a reasonable person would not have been misled by the defective legal notice.

May 19, 2014
Indiana Court of Appeals
M.S.D. of Martinsville v. Rebecca Jackson, individually and as parent and legal guardian of C.J., a Minor, and Kelli Dearth, Individually and as parent and legal guardian of B.K., a Minor
55A01-1304-CT-182
Civil tort. Affirms denial of motion for summary judgment filed by Metropolitan School District of Martinsville. The school district claimed it was immune from liability under the Indiana Torts claims Act after a shooting at Martinsville West Middle School injured two students. The Court of Appeals found the school district was not immune because the school principal’s work in developing the safety plan was not a discretionary function as exempted under the ITCA. Also the Court of Appeals ruled there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the school district breached its duty to protect C.J. and B.K. and whether C.J. was contributorily negligent.

William Hodapp, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
07A01-1307-CR-342
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class B felony incest, Class C felony incest, Class D felony possession of child pornography and Class A misdemeanor battery.

Russell Lawless v. Leslie Lawless (NFP)
58A01-1308-DR-366
Domestic relation. Affirms dissolution court’s deviation from the presumed equal division of marital property. Reverses the judgment of the dissolution court with respect to its determination of the amount of the marital debts and the value of the retirement plan. Remands with instructions for the dissolution court to recalculate the total amount of marital debts based upon the dates on which debts were incurred and on whose behalf, and assess the value of the retirement plan’s vested portion as of the date of the dissolution petition. The dissolution court will have discretion in determining the value of any appreciation in that portion of the retirement plan.

Michael Mason v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1310-CR-493
Criminal. Affirms conviction and 65-year sentence for murder.

Gary Sistrunk v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1211-CR-567
Criminal. Affirms conviction of robbery as a Class B felony. Remands with instructions to enter conviction of criminal confinement as a Class D felony and to impose a sentence consistent therewith, to be served concurrently with his sentence for the robbery conviction. Judge Michael Barnes dissents in part, arguing the robbery and confinement were not separate criminal transgressions. Therefore, the confinement conviction should be vacated entirely.  

Gary Sistrunk v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1210-CR-527
Criminal. Remands with instructions to vacate Sistrunk’s conviction of criminal confinement under Count II, and to enter his conviction of robbery under Count III as a Class C felony rather than a Class B felony. Also remands to enter Sistrunk’s convictions of criminal confinement under Counts IV and V as Class D felonies rather than Class B felonies. Finally, remands to revise the sentences to be consistent with the appropriate class level for the felonies and to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed for the robbery conviction. Judge Michael Barnes dissents from the majority view that Counts III, IV and V must be reduced because Sistrunk did not repeatedly use the weapon during the commission of the crime.  

In re the Marriage of: William Adamson v. Pamela Adamson (NFP)
55A05-1310-DR-485
Domestic relation. Reverses and remands the Morgan Circuit Court’s denial of William Adamson’s motion to modify the physical custody of K.A., finding him in contempt of court and requiring him to pay Pamela Adamson’s attorney fees.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Tax Court issued no opinions by IL deadline Monday. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued no Indiana decisions by IL deadline Monday.


 

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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