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Opinions Sept. 9, 2011

September 9, 2011
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7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Autumn Eaton v. Indiana Department of Corrections, Pendleton Juvenile Corrections Facility

10-3214
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson.
Civil. Reverses judgment of the District Court, finding that sufficient evidence exists to preclude summary judgment in favor of Eaton’s employer, the Indiana Department of Corrections, in her Title VII discrimination claim. Remands to the court for proceedings consistent with the opinion.

In re: Vikram Buddhi
10-3802
U.S. District Court, Northern, District of Indiana, Hammond Division, Judge James T. Moody.
Civil. Denies petition for a writ of mandamus requesting the 7th Circuit Court rescind the District Court’s order requiring money in Buddhi’s prison trust account to be applied to his filing fee and special assessment against him that was part of his sentence. Holds that Buddhi’s appeal from the denial of his motion to reconsider his sentence is being affirmed in a separate order.

Indiana Supreme Court had posted no opinions at IL deadline.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Shawnee Construction and Engineering, Inc. v. Don C. Stanley, Jr.
02A04-1010-CT-610
Civil tort. Reverses trial court’s grant of partial summary judgment in favor of Stanley and denial of Shawnee’s summary judgment motion, holding that Shawnee did not contractually assume a duty to Stanley. Remands to the trial court with instructions to grant Shawnee’s summary judgment motion.

Matthew Conder v. State of Indiana
49A02-1012-PC-1404
Post-conviction. Affirms denial of petition for post-conviction relief, holding Conder failed to prove his claims of his counsel’s deficient performance or prejudice.

Martha Sienkowski v. Frederick E. Verschuure
46A03-1101-CT-5
Civil tort. Affirms trial court’s refusal to consider an affidavit from a juror to impeach the jury’s verdict post-trial, holding that regardless of whether the jury verdict was unanimous, it may not be impeached by the testimony or affidavit of the jurors who return it.

Michael Smith v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1011-CR-1268
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony resisting law enforcement.

Frances Collins v. Jean Ann Elsfelder (NFP)
82A01-1009-PL-456
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court’s denial of motion to correct error. Reverses allocation of credit card debt and remands to the court to modify distribution of debt amount.

Melvin Bishop v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A04-1101-CR-1
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B felony rape. Reverses conviction of and sentence for Class C felony sexual misconduct with a minor on double jeopardy grounds and remands to the trial court to vacate that conviction and sentence.

James Mason v. State of Indiana (NFP)
71A05-1101-CR-18
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony dealing in cocaine.

Doris Autry, et al. v. Central Soya Company, Inc., et al. (NFP)
49A02-1102-CT-193
Civil tort. Affirms trial court’s denial of Autry’s request for attorney fees.

Joseph Fairrow v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1012-CR-765
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.

Joseph Gardner v. State of Indiana (NFP)
79A02-1011-CR-1286
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A felony dealing in a narcotic and associated charges.

Cyrus C. Turpin v. State of Indiana (NFP)
22A01-1012-CR-626
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation.

Richard K. Orem v. State of Indiana (NFP)
34A02-1106-CR-531
Criminal. Affirms trial court’s order that Orem serve the remainder of his previously suspended sentence for Class D felony strangulation in the Indiana Department of Correction.

Beverly Jinkins v. Cumis Insurance Society, Inc. (NFP)
49A04-1006-PL-371
Civil plenary. Affirms trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Cumis.

In Re the Term. of the Parent-Child Rel. of J.B.and L.B.: T. B. and R.B. v. Indiana Department of Child Services (NFP)
15A04-1103-JT-130
Juvenile. Affirms termination of parental rights for mother and father.

Kara Day v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1102-CR-104
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class B misdemeanor battery.

Manuel Rosas v. State of Indiana (NFP)
45A03-1011-CR-607
Criminal. Affirms conviction of and sentence for Class C felony child molesting.

Jose Rodriguez v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1006-CR-410
Criminal. Affirms conviction of attempted murder and sentence enhancement for acting at the direction of or in affiliation with a gang.

Courtney Arseneau v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A02-1012-CR-1393
Criminal. Affirms convictions of Class A misdemeanor domestic battery and Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief.

Shyreeta R. Members v. State of Indiana (NFP)
49A05-1101-CR-12
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class D felony theft.

Indiana Tax Court had posted no opinions at 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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