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Opinions Sept. 29, 2010

September 29, 2010
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The following opinion was posted after IL deadline Tuesday.
Indiana Supreme Court
David Hopper v. State of Indiana
13S01-1007-PC-399
Post conviction. In the future, a defendant expressing a desire to proceed without counsel is to be advised of the dangers of going to trial as required by Faretta, and also be informed that an attorney is usually more experienced in plea negotiations and better able to identify and evaluate any potential defenses and evidentiary or procedural problems in the prosecution’s case. Chief Justice Shepard and Justice Dickson dissent.

Today’s opinions
Indiana Supreme Court
Efren R. Diaz v. State of Indiana
20S05-0911-PC-521
Post conviction. Refusing to admit the chart on grounds of hearsay was an error. It was prepared by an expert witness of Diaz on the misinterpretations between what the court said in English and what the translator told Diaz in Spanish, and the witness’ expertise was hindered by its exclusion. The evidence before the post-conviction court doesn’t reveal whether Diaz was provided with accurate interpreting. Directs the trial court to commission its own translation of the plea hearing and the sentencing hearing to rehear such evidence to answer whether Diaz’s plea was voluntary and intelligent.

State of Indiana v. Craig Cooper
49S02-1004-PC-220
Post conviction. Reverses grant of relief by the post-conviction court. The reading of the charge and the Indianapolis police officer’s statements that he works in Indianapolis and saw Cooper at an Indianapolis address coupled with Cooper’s acknowledgement of those statements constituted a sufficient demonstration that the events happened in Marion County in 1999. Directs that the conviction be reinstated.

Matthew A. Baugh v. State of Indiana
18S04-1007-CR-398
Criminal. Affirms determination Baugh is a sexually violent predator. The invited error doctrine applies to preclude consideration of Baugh’s appellate claims based on the absence of the doctors’ live testimony during his sexually violent predator and sentencing hearing and the alleged insufficient expertise in criminal behavior disorders.

Anne M. Bingley v. Charles B. Bingley
02S03-1002-CV-122
Civil. Reverses trial court ruling that Charles’ employer-paid premiums to a health insurance company on his behalf as part of his pension plan didn’t constitute a marital asset. Employer-provided health-insurance benefits do constitute an asset once they have vested in a party to the marriage. Justice Dickson dissents.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Capital Drywall Supply, Inc. and Old Fort Building Supply Co., Inc. v. Jai Jagdish, Inc. and Ranjan Amin
71A03-1004-PL-189
Civil plenary. Affirms grant of the cross-motion of summary judgment filed by Jai Jagdish Inc. and Ranjan Amin on Capital Drywall and Old Fort’s cross-claims to foreclose on mechanic’s liens. Any error in the trial court’s ruling that limited the admissibility of the affidavit of Pamela Hartman was harmless because the lien claimants didn’t comply or substantially comply with the mechanic’s lien statute. The lien claimants didn’t perfect their liens because they both used an incorrect owner’s name in their notices of intent to hold a lien; and the lien claimants didn’t substantially comply with the mechanic’s lien statute when they listed an incorrect owner’s name on their lien notices, even if such information was obtained by telephone from the public office designated by statute.

Gregory A. Jones v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A03-1002-CR-212
Criminal. Affirms conviction of possession of cocaine as a Class D felony.

Phillip Lawton v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A04-1004-CR-267
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B felony rape.

Michael O. Branch v. State of Indiana (NFP)
84A05-1004-CR-259
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for Class D felony theft.

Terry R. Twitty, Sr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
32A01-1001-PC-19
Post conviction. Affirms post-conviction court didn’t err by denying claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel or by not appointing counsel for Twitty’s post-conviction relief proceedings and subsequent re-sentencing. The post-conviction court erred by granting Twitty relief and by re-sentencing him under Blakely. Remands with instructions to restore his original sentence.

Rudolph V. Williams v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A05-1004-CR-147
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony robbery.

Lafayette Caldwell v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A03-1003-PC-156
Post conviction. Affirms denial of successive petition for post-conviction relief.

David Reynolds v. State of Indiana (NFP)
06A01-0802-PC-67
Post conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

  2. Marijuana is safer than alcohol. AT the time the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was enacted all major pharmaceutical companies in the US sold marijuana products. 11 Presidents of the US have smoked marijuana. Smoking it does not increase the likelihood that you will get lung cancer. There are numerous reports of canabis oil killing many kinds of incurable cancer. (See Rick Simpson's Oil on the internet or facebook).

  3. The US has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners. Far too many people are sentenced for far too many years in prison. Many of the federal prisoners are sentenced for marijuana violations. Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

  4. My daughter was married less than a week and her new hubbys picture was on tv for drugs and now I havent't seen my granddaughters since st patricks day. when my daughter left her marriage from her childrens Father she lived with me with my grand daughters and that was ok but I called her on the new hubby who is in jail and said didn't want this around my grandkids not unreasonable request and I get shut out for her mistake

  5. From the perspective of a practicing attorney, it sounds like this masters degree in law for non-attorneys will be useless to anyone who gets it. "However, Ted Waggoner, chair of the ISBA’s Legal Education Conclave, sees the potential for the degree program to actually help attorneys do their jobs better. He pointed to his practice at Peterson Waggoner & Perkins LLP in Rochester and how some clients ask their attorneys to do work, such as filling out insurance forms, that they could do themselves. Waggoner believes the individuals with the legal master’s degrees could do the routine, mundane business thus freeing the lawyers to do the substantive legal work." That is simply insulting to suggest that someone with a masters degree would work in a role that is subpar to even an administrative assistant. Even someone with just a certificate or associate's degree in paralegal studies would be overqualified to sit around helping clients fill out forms. Anyone who has a business background that they think would be enhanced by having a legal background will just go to law school, or get an MBA (which typically includes a business law class that gives a generic, broad overview of legal concepts). No business-savvy person would ever seriously consider this ridiculous master of law for non-lawyers degree. It reeks of desperation. The only people I see getting it are the ones who did not get into law school, who see the degree as something to add to their transcript in hopes of getting into a JD program down the road.

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