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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. 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!!!

  5. 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.

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