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Opinions May 7, 2013

May 7, 2013
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Jose J. Loera, Jr. v. United States of America
11-3223
Criminal. Affirms drug conviction and 240-month prison sentence, holding that Loera failed to prove his attorney provided ineffective legal counsel. Loera claimed that a prior grant of a motion to suppress his statements to police before consulting an attorney should have been binding on future proceedings. The court held it was doubtful that a subsequent refusal to suppress on different grounds, if it was error, was harmful.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Think Tank Software Development Corp. d/b/a Think Tank Networking Technologies Group, et al. v. Chester, Inc., Mike Heinhold, John Mario, Joel Parker, Thomas Guelinas, et al.
64A05-1205-PL-270
Civil plenary. Reverses and remands on interlocutory appeal a trial court grant of a motion to exclude testimony from an expert witness on economics and business valuation, holding that once an expert’s scientific theories are determined to be reliable under Trial Rule 702, cross-examination is the means of exposing dissimilarities between actual evidence and an expert’s theories.

Ryan Westlake v. State of Indiana
73A01-1209-CR-433
Criminal. Affirms aggregate sentence of 25 years executed and five years suspended for pleading guilty to Class A felony child molesting and Class B felony sexual misconduct. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing when it did not consider the guilty plea as a mitigating factor because Westlake received the “substantial benefit” of having four additional charges dropped in exchange for the plea.
 
In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: A.D.S. & A.S. and L.S. v. The Indiana Department of Child Services
49A02-1207-JT-604
Juvenile. Affirms termination of mother’s parental rights, concluding there was sufficient evidence that there is a reasonable probability
that the reasons for the children’s placement outside the home will not be remedied and that the totality of the evidence supports the trial court’s conclusion that termination of mother’s parental rights is in the children’s best interest.

Patti S. Maxfield and Ronald G. Maxfield v. Women's Health Partnership, P.C. and Corporate Cleaning Systems, Inc. (NFP)

49A02-1209-CT-707
Civil tort. Affirms summary judgments for Corporate Cleaning and for Women’s Health.  

Tracy Lawrence v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A02-1206-CR-524
Criminal. Affirms Lawrence’s sentence to an aggregate 100-year term after being convicted of Class A felony child molesting and Class A felony attempted child molesting. The trial court neither abused its discretion nor imposed an inappropriate sentence.

Brice Dutrow v. State of Indiana (NFP)
30A04-1207-CR-356
Criminal. Affirms Dutrow’s sentence of concurrent terms of 45 years  with five years suspended to probation for convictions of burglary and robbery, both Class A felonies, and an enhancement of 30 years on the burglary conviction.   

Amy (Winton) Otis v. Marketing Three LLC (NFP)
20A05-1210-CC-505
Civil collection. Reverses the judgment of the trial court and remands for further proceedings. Concludes the trial court erred in entering summary judgment in favor of Marketing Three.

Jonathan Reiner v. State of Indiana (NFP)

20A05-1210-PC-499
Post conviction. Affirms Reiner’s conviction and 30-year sentence for Class A felony dealing in methamphetamine. The majority finds Reiner’s trial counsel was not ineffective for failing to raise a competency objection to the detective’s yield rate testimony; failing to present evidence challenging the reliability of yield rate evidence in general; and failing to move for a directed verdict on the Class A felony charge on the basis of insufficient evidence as to the amount of meth being manufactured. Also concludes Reiner’s appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge the sufficiency of the state’s evidence as to the amount of meth being manufactured. In her dissent, Judge Elaine Brown finds Reiner has demonstrated that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to challenge the admissibility of the evidence regarding the yield rate. He also received ineffective assistant of trial and appellate counsel for failure to challenge the evidence as insufficient to support the Class A felony.    

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court posted no opinions prior to 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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