Justices grant transfer in 4 cases, deny 19 others

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The Indiana Supreme Court declined to hear 19 cases out of 23 petitions for transfer last week but agreed to hear cases involving post-conviction relief and termination of parental rights, among others.

Justices first accepted the case of Brandon Lawrence Johnson v. State of Indiana, 20S-CR-61, in which Brandon Johnson pleaded guilty to Level 4 felony dealing in methamphetamine and was handed a 12-year prison sentence. His post-conviction relief petition was denied, as was as a subsequent petition for permission to file a belated notice of appeal. The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of Johnson’s petition to file a belated appeal of his sentence, finding he had waived that right upon agreeing to a plea deal.

Next, the high court agreed to hear Indiana Land Trust Company f/k/a Lake County Trust Company TR #4340 v. XL Investment Properties, LLC, et al., 20S-MI-62. There, the COA reinstated a Michigan City property owner’s challenge to the tax sale of land sold without notice for back taxes. The appellate court concluded that the LaPorte County auditor’s failure to check records that would have revealed the actual address of the property owner was a denial of constitutional due process.

The Supreme Court also accepted Termination: A.B., et al. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 20S-JT-63,  in which the COA affirmed the termination of parental rights to a mother and father who argued that their children would not be affected by the parents’ drug use. The four minor children of A.B. and J.R. were removed from their care due to poor living conditions, domestic violence and drug use, but the parents asserted it would still be appropriate for the children to live with them. The appellate court disagreed, finding termination was in the children’s best interests.

Lastly, the justices agreed to hear argument in Stanley V. Watson v. State of Indiana, 20S-CR-64. Appellate judges split over the case, in which Stanley Watson’s habitual offender adjudication was reversed and remanded after the COA majority found the state failed to bring Watson to trial within Indiana Criminal Rule 4(C)’s one-year statutory deadline. However, Judge James Kirsch noted that the majority panel ignored that the one-year period set forth in the rule runs from the date of the defendant’s arrest or the date that the criminal charge is filed, both of which had expired more than a decade prior to Watson’s PCR petition filing.

A full list of transfer decisions for the week ending Feb, 21 can be found here.

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