Opinions July 15, 2019

Keywords Opinions

Indiana Court of Appeals
River Ridge Development Authority v. Outfront Media, LLC, David Watkins, No Moore, Inc., The Schlosser Family Limited Partnership, The Town of Utica, and the Utica Board of Zoning Appeals

Civil plenary. Reverses an order of the Clark Circuit Court requiring River Ridge Development Authority to pay a total of $237,440 in attorney fees to opposing parties. Holds that the trial court’s findings of fact were clearly erroneous, therefore nullifying its conclusions of law that River Ridge owed any attorney fees.
Charles Edward Luster v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Reverses the St. Joseph Superior Court order revoking Charles Luster’s placement in community corrections, ordering him to serve the remaining three years of his sentence in the Department of Correction. Finds the trial court violated Luster’s due process rights by failing to consider his competency after evaluations had been ordered. Remands with instructions for the trial court to consider Luster’s competency evaluations and determine whether he is competent to understand and participate in the proceedings against him.

Christal Trowbridge v. The Estate of Everett Thomas Trowbridge, and Michael T. Trowbridge
Estate, supervised. Reverses the Clark Circuit Court order denying probate of a will offered into probate by Christal Trowbridge and a court order declaring that Everett Trowbridge had died intestate. Finds the order is contrary to law and that the trial court erroneously shifted the burden of proof to Christal. Remands for proceedings.

Darnell Cleveland v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms and reverses in part Darnell Cleveland’s convictions for Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Finds the search of Cleveland’s person and bag was lawful. Also finds the Marion Superior Court did not err in ordering Cleveland to pay a public defender fee without first conducting an indigency hearing or making an explicit indigency finding. Finally, finds there was error in the trial court’s order to destroy Cleveland’s handgun post-conviction. Remands. Judge Cale Bradford concurs and dissents in part with separate opinion.

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of J.S. and Jo.C. (Minor Children) and J.C. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Reverses the termination of father J.C.’s parental rights to J.S. and Jo.C. Finds J.C. demonstrated that the termination hearing was not timely conducted. Also finds the order terminating his parental rights to the children is clearly erroneous.
Jeffrey Dean Needler v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Jeffrey Needler’s conviction of assisting a criminal as a Level 6 felony. Finds Needler has failed to establish that the Hamilton Superior Court committed fundamental error in the admission of evidence resulting from an allegedly unconstitutional search of his residence.
Jaylen N. Thomas v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Jaylen N. Thomas’ 55-year sentence, with seven years suspended, three to probation, for his conviction of felony murder committed at the age of 15. Finds Thomas’ sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

Tommy L. Graham, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Tommy Graham’s convictions of two counts of Level 4 felony sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of Level 5 felony sexual misconduct with a minor, and his aggregate 15-year sentence. Finds the Jackson Circuit Court properly admitted Facebook messages between Graham and L.G. and a video clip showing Graham in jail clothing. Also finds the evidence presented to the jury was sufficient to sustain his conviction, and L.G.’s trial testimony was not incredibly dubious. Finally, finds Graham’s sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of his offenses and his character.

Timothy Strowmatt v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Timothy Strowmatt’s petition for permission to file a belated notice of appeal. Finds the St. Joseph Superior Court did not err.
Ashley M. Obando (Coffey) v. Michael A. Coffey (mem. dec.)
Domestic relations with children. Affirms the denial of Ashley Obando’s petition to modify custody of her two children with Michael Coffey. Finds Obando failed to submit a complete record on appeal, so the Indiana Court of Appeals cannot say the Marion Superior Court erred in its findings or in its allocation of expenses.

Michael Bousum v. Amber Bousum (mem. dec.)
Domestic relations. Affirms the denial of Michael Bousum’s request to modify custody and the order for him to pay weekly child support and a portion of mother Amber Bousum’s attorney fees. Finds the trial court did not clearly err in its custody ruling. Also finds Michael has not shown any abuse of discretion in the trial court’s child support determination, nor in its order for Michael to pay part of Amber’s attorney fees. Finally, declines to award appellate attorney fees to Amber.

In the Matter of: C.M. (Minor Child), Child in Need of Services and J.M. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
Juvenile CHINS. Reverses the finding that J.M.’s son, C.M., is a child in need of services. Finds the Department of Child Services failed to present sufficient evidence that C.M.’s physical or mental condition was seriously impaired or endangered as a result of J.M.’s inability, refusal, or neglect to supply C.M. with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, treatment, or rehabilitation.

Evan Michael Sapp v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Evan Michael Sapp’s conviction of Level 4 felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. Finds the state presented sufficient evidence that Sapp possessed a firearm.

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