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Opinions Sept. 3, 2013

September 3, 2013
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
USA v. Farshad Ghiassi
12-3596
Criminal. Affirms 70-month sentence for Ghiassi’s guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S. Code 922(g)(1). Finds the District Court was uniquely and well-situated to assess the credibility of Ghiassi’s co-defendant and her statements that she purchased eight firearms on his behalf. Also rejects Ghiassi’s alternative argument that the District Court deprived him of due process. Rules Ghiassi knew the court was going to rely on his co-defendant’s statements and he had opportunity to challenge those statements.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Peru City Police Department and City of Peru v. Gregory Martin
52A02-1304-PL-350
Civil plenary. Reverses a trial court ruling that overturned a city board’s firing of a police officer for use of excessive force against a 64-year-old nursing home patient hit with five Taser deployments in one minute. The panel held that the trial court erroneously substituted its judgment for that of the city board, impermissibly reweighed evidence, disregarded evidence favorable to the board’s decision, credited the testimony of witnesses that the trial court did not personally hear, and misstated evidence regarding the scope of the officer’s training.

Peter F. Amaya v. D. Craig Brater, M.D., In his Capacity as Dean and Director of Indiana University School of Medicine; The Board of Trustees of Indiana University; et al.
49A04-1212-PL-620
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court grant of summary judgment in favor of Indiana University School of Medicine and related co-defendants for the dismissal of third-year medical student Peter Amaya on allegations of cheating on an exam. The panel held that Amaya was not denied due process and that it could not conclude that the decision to dismiss Amaya was not based on substantial evidence or was arbitrary or capricious.

Marion Turner v. State of Indiana
49A05-1302-CR-59
Criminal. Affirms conviction for dealing in cocaine as a Class A felony. Finds no reversible error in the trial court’s exclusion of a confidential informant’s offer to pay more money for cocaine. The jury could “reasonably interpret” from Turner’s testimony saying “the intensity was basically up the ante,” that the purchase price was being increased. Also rules the evidence is sufficient to prove Turner’s predisposition to deal cocaine. Turner’s interaction with an undercover detective indicated he was familiar with drug jargon and was soliciting a future transaction.  

TP Orthodontics, Inc., Christopher K. Kesling, DDS, MS, Adam Kesling, and Emily Kesling, Individually and derivatively on behalf of TP Orthodontics, Inc. v. Andrew C. Kesling, et al.
46A03-1207-MI-324
Miscellaneous. Affirms trial court’s order compelling TP Orthodontics to file a copy of the special litigation committee’s entire report under seal and to produce a copy for the siblings and their counsel. Rules the heavily redacted report gives a partial picture at best. It does not provide any information on what the committee may have failed to do or may have done incorrectly. Consequently, the derivative plaintiffs must have access to the complete unredacted report in order to determine if the committee was disinterested or conducted its investigation in good faith.

Kem Duerson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
82A01-1301-CR-23
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony dealing in cocaine and adjudication as a habitual offender.

Yulanda C. Petty v. John T. Petty (NFP)
71A03-1301-DR-11
Domestic relation. Affirms in part, reverses in part and remands a trial court order in favor of John Petty. Remands for a hearing to determine the balance in a trust account and a corresponding recalculation of Yulanda Petty’s share of support for a daughter’s college expenses.

Ruben Mancillas, Jr. v. State of Indiana (NFP)
55A04-1208-CR-444
Criminal. Affirms aggregate sentence of seven-and-a-half years for conviction of Class D felony resisting law enforcement with a motor vehicle, misdemeanor counts of failure to stop at an accident resulting in damage to a vehicle and operating a vehicle while intoxicated enhanced by a habitual offender finding.

Dwight McPherson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A05-1302-CR-64
Criminal. Remands to the trial court for proceedings, finding error in imposing a $200 public defender fee and in leaving a determination of restitution for the probation department.

Guy Ivester v. State of Indiana (NFP)
33A04-1209-PC-491
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief from 18-year executed sentence for conviction of Class A felony dealing in a Schedule II controlled substance.

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of E.M., L.M., & G.M., and S.M. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
29A02-1301-JT-89
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights.

Robert J. Winings v. State of Indiana (NFP)
20A03-1301-PC-26
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief from 40-year executed sentence for convictions of Class A felony dealing methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school and Class B felony dealing methamphetamine.

Robert Small v. State of Indiana (NFP)
48A04-1301-CR-38
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Tax Court issued no opinions prior to IL deadline.

 

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  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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