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Supreme Court takes public intoxication case

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The Indiana Supreme Court will rule on whether a woman’s conviction of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication should be reversed because she wasn’t in a public place within the meaning of Indiana Code at the time police stopped her car. This issue divided the Indiana Court of Appeals, which reversed Brenda Moore’s conviction.

The justices accepted the case, Brenda Moore v. State of Indiana, No. 49S04-1101-CR-24. The majority on the Court of Appeals used Miles v. State, 247 Ind. 423, 425 216 N.E.2d 847, 849 (1966) to support their decision. Moore’s friend was driving Moore’s car because he needed to go somewhere and Moore was too drunk to drive. He was driving with Moore in the front seat. Police pulled over the car for a non-working license plate light. The friend didn’t have a valid license and Moore admitted she couldn’t drive because she was drunk.

The majority found the facts of the instant case to be different from Miles, in which a truck diver was slumped over his steering wheel in his running tractor-trailer cab parked on the side of a highway. That driver was considered to be drunk in public for purposes of the statute.

Judge Margret Robb also wrote that the purpose of the statute is to prevent intoxicated people from threatening the safety of others and under the circumstances of this case, Moore wasn’t intoxicated in a public place within the meaning of Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-1-3. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, believing it’s up to legislature to address this issue.

The justices denied transfer to 16 cases for the week ending Jan. 14, including Lawane Chaney, et al. v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc., No. 49A05-0905-CV-263. In that not-for-publication decision, Ronald Weldy, the former counsel for Lawane Chaney, appealed the sanctions imposed against him under Indiana Trial Rule 37 as purported class counsel. The Court of Appeals affirmed there was a legal basis for the sanction imposed.

According to the docket, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Steven David would also consider a petition for damages, including attorney fees, pursuant to Appellate Rule 66(E).

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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