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Opinions May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013
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Indiana Court of Appeals
Jill Finfrock a/k/a Jill Bastone v. Mark Finfrock
64A05-1209-DR-489
Domestic relation. Reverses award of attorney fees to Mark Finfrock. The award was based on perceived violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which is inapplicable because Finfrock’s arrearage of child support is not considered “debt” under the Act. The trial court did not abuse its discretion by declining Jill Bastone’s request to enter a qualified domestic relations order to attach to the entirety of her ex-husband’s retirement account. Remands for further proceedings.

Glenn Patrick Bradford v. State of Indiana

82A01-1203-PC-129
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief. Bradford’s evidence that he claimed was newly discovered did not require a new trial. The court did not err in denying his claims of ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel.

Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. v. Elizabeth Bridgewater o/b/o Alyssa Bridgewater
93A02-1202-EX-145
Agency action. Affirms administrative law judge’s finding that Alyssa Bridgewater, who has dietary restrictions, was reasonably accommodated by FACES when it suggested she bring a meal to an event; and that there is sufficient evidence to support the finding that FACES engaged in unlawful retaliation by expelling the Bridgewaters. Affirms the $2,500 granted to the Bridgewaters by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission for the retaliatory expulsion from the religious homeschooling organization. Reverses order that FACES post the ALJ’s decision on all websites on which they have communicated information regarding this case. Judge Bailey concurs in result.

Jesse Brown v. State of Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
41A01-1209-PL-404
Civil plenary. Reverses denial of DCS’ motion to dismiss Brown’s petition for judicial review and order that directed the agency to reimburse Brown $1,200 for the cost of preparing an agency record.

In the Matter of S.D.; J.B. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
49A05-1209-JC-488
Juvenile. Affirms determination S.D. is a child in need of services and the disposition ordered by the court.

B.B. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1210-JV-852
Juvenile. Affirms adjudication that B.B. committed what would be Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct if committed by an adult.

Philip R. Davis v. City of Fort Wayne (NFP)
02A03-1209-PL-385
Civil plenary. Affirms dismissal of Davis’ complaints for judicial review.

Leonard F. Williams v. State of Indiana (NFP)
43A04-1206-PC-322
Post conviction. Reverses the post-conviction court’s judgment against Williams on his claim that his guilty plea was involuntary and remands for the post-conviction court to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issue. Affirms the post-conviction denial of Williams’ petition on his claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court did not post any opinions by IL deadline. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals posted no Indiana decisions by IL deadline.
 

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  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

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