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Opinions Nov. 12, 2010

November 12, 2010
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Indiana Supreme Court
In the Matter of William J. Rawls
49S00-0908-DI-355
Discipline. Disbars Rawls for violating Indiana Professional Conduct Rules 1.2(a), 1.3, 1.4(a), 1.16(d), 8.1(a), 8.1(b), 8.4(b), and 8.4(c). Rawls has demonstrated a pattern of neglect of his clients' cases, resulting in adverse dispositions, suspension of one client's driver's license, a missed opportunity to settle, and undue delay.

Indiana Court of Appeals
R.H. v. State of Indiana
71A03-1003-JV-206
Juvenile. Affirms awarding guardianship of R.H. to the Indiana Department of Correction. His placement is justified by the two instant adjudications, his behavior while in detention and on electronic monitoring, his pattern of inappropriate sexual conduct, and his family’s inability or refusal to address his inappropriate sexual conduct.

Michael McAllister, et al. v. Loretta A. Sanders, et al.
76A03-1006-MI-306
Miscellaneous. Affirms summary judgment in favor of intervenors Williamson and the Grays in which the court concluded there had been a common law dedication of the disputed parcel of land – an alley between the Williamson and Grays’ lots. The trial court did not err when it found that Loretta Sanders intended to make a common law dedication of the disputed alley and that the McAllisters and Zirkle had not acquired fee simple title by adverse possession.  

Brian McNeill v. State of Indiana
71A05-1003-CR-219
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B felony aggravated battery because there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction. McNeill was at the crime scene and participated in the crime by firing his gun.

Tracie Burton v. Donna Bridwell, et al.
47A01-1003-CT-185
Civil tort. Reverses jury’s determination that Burton, as a passenger in a car, was at 50 percent fault for an auto accident, but rules the error was harmless. Affirms the damage award because it was within the bounds of the evidence that was presented at trial.

Town of Avon v. West Central Conservancy District, et al.
32A05-1003-PL-149
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment in favor of the West Central Conservancy District and other appellees on their challenge of an ordinance enacted by Avon that purports to regulate the conservancy district and township’s ability to remove and sell groundwater that was located in a local park. The Home Rule Act makes it clear that Avon may not impose a duty on the appellees “except as expressly granted by statute.” Ind. Code Section 36-1-3-8(a)(3). Therefore, because an aquifer is not a watercourse, Avon has no authority to restrict what the appellees choose to do with the groundwater in the aquifers.

Jimmy Morris v. State of Indiana
49A04-1003-CR-165
Criminal. Affirms denial of motion to modify sentence placement. The 2001 modification of Ind. Code Section 35-38-1-17(b) did not give the trial court authority to modify Morris’ 1998 sentence.

Lucio Garcia v. State of Indiana
49A02-1005-PC-597
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief. Garcia didn’t meet his burden to prove he received ineffective assistance of counsel.

Leo Machine & Tool Inc., et al. v. Poe Volunteer Fire Dept. Inc., et al.
02A03-1003-PL-143
Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment ruling that Poe Volunteer Fire Department is immune from liability under the Indiana Tort Claims Act and denial of Leo Machine’s complaint for damages suffered as a result of a fire. The Poe Fire Department’s actions are entitled to immunity as these were undertaken after a conscious and informed risk/benefit analysis based upon the specific challenges and threats caused by this particular fire.

Joseph L. Haskett v. State of Indiana (NFP)
52A02-1004-CR-505
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty plea to Class B felony dealing in methamphetamine.

Randy L. Labresh v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A05-1004-CR-229
Criminal. Affirms sentence following guilty plea to Class C felony operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death.

John F. Minter v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-0911-CR-666
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class A felony dealing in cocaine, Class C felony possession of cocaine, and Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Samuel D. Clark, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
33A01-1004-CR-236
Criminal. Affirms revocation of home detention and suspended sentence.

Roman Warner v. Alan Finnan, et al. (NFP)
77A05-0905-CV-251
Civil. Affirms order denying Warner’s motion for extension of time to file his reply brief. Warner waived his claims for failure to develop the record on appeal.

Donielle S. Sims v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A03-1003-CR-140
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for Class A felony attempted robbery.

W.T. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1002-JV-120
Juvenile. Affirms trial court valuation of one of the items W.T. stole.

David Lee Wright v. State of Indiana (NFP)
19A01-1003-PC-161
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

Paul Hagedorn v. Dennis Talboom (NFP)
71A03-1002-SC-48
Small claims. Affirms finding Talboom’s damages were $2,593 plus costs.

Walter A. Griffin v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1003-CR-199
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass.

Timothy Martin v. State of Indiana (NFP)
35A05-1005-CR-333
Criminal. Affirms denial of motion to withdraw plea of guilty but mentally ill to Class B felony burglary.

Simon Allen v. State of Indiana (NFP)
67A01-1005-CR-245
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class C felony conspiracy to commit trafficking with an inmate and Class D felony possession of cocaine. Remands for clarification of the sentence imposed.

Charles E. Gould v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1004-CR-430
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony burglary.

D.M. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1005-JV-551
Juvenile. Affirms finding D.M. delinquent for committing what would be Class B felony burglary and Class D felony theft if committed by an adult.

Christopher Upton v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1003-CR-135
Criminal. Affirms conviction of invasion of privacy but reverses the enhancement to a Class D felony and remands for entry of and sentencing for the conviction as a Class A misdemeanor.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.
 

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  1. 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!!!

  2. 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.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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