Justices split, deny grandparent visitation appeal

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Divided 3-2, the Indiana Supreme Court last week declined to hear the appeal of a grandparent stripped of visitation rights in a Court of Appeals ruling.

Justices declined to grant transfer in Kirk R. Jocham v. Melba Sutliff, 29A02-1406-DR-424. The Court of Appeals held maternal grandmother Melba Sutliff had no standing to seek visitation after her grandchild’s parents divorced, and the father remarried a short time after the mother’s death.

Justices Brent Dickson and Mark Massa would have heard the appeal; Justices Steven David and Robert Rucker joined Chief Justices Loretta Rush in denying transfer.

Meanwhile, justices granted transfer in three cases last week, two of which already have been disposed of. Cases granted transfer are:

•    Shane L. Keller v. State of Indiana,  88A04-1404-CR-168. The Indiana Court of Appeals vacated two convictions of Class D felony receiving stolen property for Shane Keller, who repeatedly broke into property and stole tools and items being used to renovate a farmhouse. The panel did not reach agreement that the aggregate 50-year sentence Keller received was inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and Keller’s character, particularly due to his extensive criminal history.
•    Kieara R. Carter v. Rose Vaisvilas, et al., 61-S04-1506-PL-352. Justices granted transfer in a pro se inmate’s medical malpractice action and dismissed the appeal without prejudice.
•    Jason and Justina Kramer v. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Inc., 71S03-1506-CT-350. Justices ruled 4-1 June 3 the adoption agency had no duties beyond statutory requirements with respect to the putative father registry.

Supreme Court transfer dispositions may be viewed here.


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