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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. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

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  3. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

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  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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