Opinions Nov. 23, 2016

November 23, 2016

Indiana Court of Appeals
In the Matter of the Commitment of M.E. v. Department of Veterans Affairs
Mental health. Reverses the involuntary commitment of M.E. Finds that M.E. did not receive appropriate notice, that his waiver was invalid and that Veterans Affairs did not carry its burden of proof with respect to the elements of dangerousness and grave disability. Remands with instructions to vacate the order of involuntary commitment.

Kathy Salyer v. Washington Regular Baptist Church Cemetery v. Kristy Sams
Small claim. Reverses the order from the small claims court on Kathy Salyer’s complaint requesting the return of a burial space she had purchased. Finds that the small claims court erred in finding the cemetery liable for damages and that it did not have jurisdiction to enter an order for specific performance or injunctive relief. Remands for consideration of transfer to the court’s plenary docket.

Benjamin Sheetz v. Ronnie Sheetz
Domestic relations. Affirms the Adams Circuit Court order requiring Benjamin Sheetz to pay child support for Ronnie Sheetz’s child. Finds that Benjamin Sheetz is equitably estopped from rebutting the presumption that he is the child’s biological father because he told Ronnie Sheetz that he would raise the child as his own, prohibited her from telling the child’s biological father that she was pregnant and also instructed her not to seek support from the biological father or to file a paternity action. Judge Edward Najam dissents with separate opinion.

In the Matter of: C.K., a Child Alleged to be in Need of Services, F.R. (Mother) and B.K. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile. Affirms the juvenile court’s order determining that C.K. was a child in need of services. Finds that the juvenile court had sufficient evidence upon which it based its findings and the court properly applied Indiana Code.

William Epperly v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the revocation of William Epperly’s probation. Finds that because Epperly does not argue fundamental error, the Court of Appeals cannot consider his arguments regarding some alleged hearsay statements and that Officer Smith’s statement was not hearsay. Also finds that any error in the admission of Officer Hunkler’s statement was harmless, as it was cumulative of the properly admitted evidence. Finally, finds that the state presented sufficient evidence Epperly violated his probation. Remands to the Howard Superior Court with instructions to correct its statements regarding the days remaining on Epperly’s sentence and the days of credit time Epperly has earned.

Wilma Beatrice Allen v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Wilma Beatrice Allen’s conviction for battery as a Level 6 felony. Concludes that a reasonable trier of fact could find, based upon the testimony and evidence presented, that the force used by Allen was not reasonably necessary or appropriate under the circumstances and disproportionate to the offense, and that the defense of parental discipline privilege was negated beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rosina Keller v. Gretchen Cheesman, as Administrator of the City of Muncie Unsafe Building Hearing Authority, and the City of Muncie (mem. dec.)
Miscellaneous. Affirms the Delaware Circuit Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Gretchen Cheesman, in her capacity as administrator of the city of Muncie’s Unsafe Building Hearing Authority, and the city of Muncie. Finds that Rosina Keller failed to file a response to the summary judgment motion, and as a result Cheesman and the city demonstrated without contradiction that Keller failed to comply with conditions for further continuances of the demolition order.

Christopher Riddle v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Christopher Riddle’s sentence of six years executed for attempted robbery as a Level 5 felony to be served consecutive to his sentences stemming from crimes committed in Pennsylvania. Finds that Riddle has not presented a significant mitigating circumstance or that the Wells Circuit Court abused its discretion with respect to Riddle’s proposed mitigator, that any error was harmless, and that he has not met his burden of establishing that his sentence is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

In Re the Visitation of: K.W. and A.W. (Minors), E.B. v. J.W. (mem. dec.)
Miscellaneous. Affirms the Johnson Superior Court judgment granting father J.W.’s request that he be allowed to deny grandparents E.B. and J.B. visitation with K.W. and A.W. Finds that the trial court did not improperly exclude one statement from evidence, should not have ruled on E.B. and J.B.’s petition to appoint a guardian ad litem before holding hearings, did properly consider certain factors regarding their visitation rights, and did support its findings with the record.

Michael W.L. Deweese v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Reverses the Monroe Circuit Court’s decision to sentence Michael Deweese to 30 years each for Level 3 felony armed robbery, Level 3 felony criminal confinement and Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement and remands with instructions to resentence Deweese to terms within the statutory maximums. Remands to the trial court to clarify how the firearm sentencing enhancement is intended to apply to the total sentence. Finds that considering the callous nature of the offense, Deweese failed to demonstrate that his aggregate sentence of 109 ½ years is inappropriate.

In re the Adoption of S.M.M., T.M.S. v. K.L.M. (mem. dec.)
Adoption. Affirms the Grant Superior Court’s order granting the petition for adoption of S.M.M. by K.L.M. Finds that T.M.S.’s consent to the adoption of S.M.M. by K.L.M. was not required pursuant to Indiana Code 31-19-9-8.

Ventura S. Sanchez v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Reverses Ventura Sanchez’s convictions for Class B felony sexual deviate conduct and Class B felony incest. The state concedes reversible error occurred, so the convictions must be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial.