Opinions Aug. 28, 2013

August 28, 2013

Indiana Supreme Court
Mary Elizabeth Santelli, as Administrator of the Estate of James F. Santelli v. Abu M. Rahmatullah, Individually and d/b/a Super 8 Motel
Civil tort. Affirms judgment of trial court under the Indiana Comparative Fault Act in which a jury determined total damages of $2,070,000 in the death of hotel guest James Santelli. The jury apportioned fault under the Act as follows: 1 percent fault to Santelli, 2 percent to hotel owner Abu Rahmatullah, and 97 percent to the killer, Joseph Pryor, who formerly worked at the hotel, providing an award for the estate of $41,400.

State of Indiana v. Russell Oney
Criminal. Affirms trial court’s granting of Oney’s motion to set aside his 2002 guilty plea for operating a vehicle while suspended as a habitual traffic violator, as a Class D felony. Finds Oney’s status as an HTV was based, in part, on his 1989 operating a vehicle while intoxicated, as a Class D felony. In that conviction, the trial court was found to have made material error by urging Oney to accept a plea, even though the defendant maintained his innocence. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled once Oney’s 1989 conviction was overturned, the predicate offense qualifying him as an HTV no longer existed. Therefore, the guilty plea and judgment of conviction are voidable.  

Juan M. Garrett v. State of Indiana
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief for a man convicted of rape in a bench trial that followed an acquittal on one rape count and a hung jury on a second. The court held that the ‘actual evidence’ test announced in Richardson v. State, 717 N.E.2d 32 (Ind. 1999) is applicable to cases in which there has been an acquittal on one charge and retrial on another charge after a hung jury. The court also ruled that Garrett’s conviction violated constitutional protections against double jeopardy, but the post-conviction court properly denied his claim that counsel rendered ineffective assistance in failing to pursue this issue at trial or on direct appeal.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Kenneth Compton v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms 20-year executed sentence for conviction of Class B felony robbery, Class B felony criminal confinement and Class B felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Christopher C. Anderson v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms revocation of probation on conviction of Class B felony possession of cocaine and Class A misedemeanor possession of marijuana.

Oscar Eduardo Perez v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief from a conviction of murder and Class D felony criminal gang activity.

Hakuru Simaha v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of seven counts of Class C felony forgery and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Jamel Douglas Gilbert v. State of Indiana (NFP) 
Post conviction. Affirms denial of post-conviction relief from a conviction of murder.

In Re The Guardianship of K.S., S.E., v. K.B. (NFP)
Guardianship. Affirms termination of S.E.’s guardianship of her niece, K.S., and S.E’s subsequent request for visitation with K.S.  

Dana L. Bering v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms on interlocutory appeal denial of a motion for discharge under Criminal Rule 4(c).

Charles Settles v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony burglary.

Teresa Smith v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms 14-year executed sentence for conviction of Class B felony criminal deviate conduct.

Michael Pace v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of two counts of Class B felony child molesting.

Anthony Owens v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class C felony alteration of vehicle identification number and reverses and remands to the trial court to correct the chronological case summary that erroneously states convictions on other counts.

Dennis Watson v. Michael Abraham, d/b/a Abraham Custom Paint Studio (NFP)
Civil plenary. Dismisses for lack of jurisdiction an appeal of a trial court order because it was neither final nor interlocutory.

Terry E. Pearsall v. State of Indiana (NFP)
Criminal. Affirms conviction of Class A misdemeanor battery.

Indiana Tax Court issued no opinions by IL deadline. U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued no Indiana opinions by IL deadline.