Opinions Dec. 30, 2020

The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was posted after IL deadline on Tuesday:

USA v. Eduardo Ramirez
20-1006
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. Judge Damon R. Leichty.
Criminal. Affirms Eduardo Ramirez’s 72-month prison sentence for pleading guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon. Finds that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana appropriately handled his “aging out” argument as no data supported it. Finds that the district court reasonably justified its above-guidelines sentence and that it is substantively reasonable.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Maples Health Care, Inc v. Firestone Building Products
20A-PL-01095
Civil plenary. Affirms in part, finding that the Hamilton Superior Court’s judgment finding Firestone Building Products liable for breach of warranty with Maples Health Care, Inc. extends only to the Red Shield Warranty as it was the sole claim alleged in the complaint that was properly before the trial court. Reverses the $9,500 damages award to Maples and the order on the request for clarification and motion to correct error as to damages. Remands with instructions. Judge Elizabeth Tavitas concurs in part and dissents in part with a separate opinion.

Tanya A Littleton v. State of Indiana
20A-CR-01159
Criminal. Affirms Tanya Littleton’s convictions for dealing in methamphetamine, as a Level 3 felony, and maintaining a common nuisance, a Level felony. Finds the Franklin Circuit Court did not err as a matter of law when it refused to use Littleton’s preliminary and final jury instruction on the presumption of innocence. The trial court did instruct the jury about the defendant being presumed innocent but it did not use the language offered by the Indiana Supreme Court in McCowan v. State, 27 N.E. 3d 760, 763 (Ind. 2015). Although not an error, the appellate court noted the better practice would have been for the trial court to use the same words prescribed by the Supreme Court. Also finds the trial court did not commit fundamental error when it order Littleton to pay $693 in public defender fees after her private counsel entered his appearance.

Edward Meiggs v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-PC-1067
Post conviction. Affirms the denial of Edward Meiggs’ petition for post-conviction relief. Finds the evidence does not as a whole unerringly and unmistakably lead to a conclusion opposite that reached by the Vanderburgh Superior Court.

Thomas D. Bohlsen v. Victoria D. Bohlsen (mem. dec.)
20A-DC-1395
Domestic relation, with children. Affirms in part and reverses in part the Hamilton Superior Court’s order finding Thomas Bohlsen in contempt for failing to pay child support. Finds that the trial court also found that husband had paid the child support arrearage in full and thus, a sanction on that basis was improper. Finds Husband has demonstrated prima facie error in the court’s imposition of a sanction of incarceration for his failure to pay the money judgment.

Ines Garcia Perez v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1396
Criminal. Affirms Ines Garcia Perez’s one-year suspended sentence imposed by the Bartholomew Superior Court after her guilty plea to Level 6 felony identity deception, for which the trial court entered judgment of conviction as a Class A misdemeanor pursuant to a plea agreement. Finds no abuse of discretion and that Perez has not met her burden to demonstrate that her sentence is inappropriate.

James Eugene Surface v. James Armstrong (mem. dec.)
20A-SC-830
Small claims. Affirms the denial of James Eugene Surface’s motion to correct error, following the entry of a $2,309.81 judgment in favor of James Armstrong. Declines to set aside the judgment, finding the damages award was within the scope of the evidence presented at trial in the Lawrence Division of the Marion County Small Claims Court.

Akeem J. Bazley v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1247
Criminal. Affirms Akeem Bazley’s four-year sentence for conviction in Bartholomew Superior Court of Level 5 felony intimidation. Finds the sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: J.R. and J.M. (Minor Children) and V.R. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
20A-JT-1307
Juvenile termination. Affirms the termination of V.R.’s parental right to her minor children, J.R. and J.M. Finds the Elkhart Circuit Court’s termination of Mother’s parental rights was not clearly erroneous.

Michael D. Crawley v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1002
Criminal. Affirms Michael Crawley’s conviction of two counts of dealing in methamphetamine and one count of maintaining a common nuisance. Finds that the Jefferson Circuit Court did not err in letting the jury use the transcripts while listening to the recordings. Finds any error regarding the officer’s testimony is harmless. Declines to reweigh the evidence. 

Henry D. Bates v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1110
Criminal. Affirms Henry Bates’ 16-year sentence for conviction of Level 3 felony robbery with a deadly weapon. Finds the Elkhart Superior Court did not abuse its sentencing discretion by imposing an enhanced sentence. Finds Bates’ maximum sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of his offense and his character

Dylan M. Morgan v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-634
Criminal. Affirms Dylan Morgan’s convictions and sentence for murder, and for Level 6 felony counts of altering the scene of a death, and obstruction of justice as well as misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession or consumption of alcohol. Finds Morgan has not sustained his burden of establishing that his advisory sentence for murder served concurrently with his other sentences is inappropriate in light of the nature of the offenses and his character. Also finds that the state presented evidence of probative value in Vigo Superior Court from which a reasonable jury could have determined beyond a reasonable doubt that Morgan was guilty of murder.

K.P. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-JV-1431
Juvenile. Affirms the juvenile court’s order committing K.P. to the Indiana Department of Correction. Finds that the Lake Superior Court’s ordered placement is consistent with K.P.’s best interests and the safety of the community and finds no abuse of discretion.

Devon W. Kyle v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1217
Criminal. Affirms Devon Kyle’s convictions and sentence for operating a motor vehicle after forfeiture of license for life as a Level 5 felony; possession of marijuana as a Class B misdemeanor; possession of a synthetic drug or synthetic drug lookalike substance as a Class A misdemeanor; operating a vehicle while intoxicated as a Class C misdemeanor; and refusal to identify himself as a Class C misdemeanor. Finds sufficient evidence to support the conviction in Elkhart Superior Court and finds his sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character. 

Patricia Whitt v. Denise R. Devos (mem. dec.)
20A-CT-810
Civil tort. Affirms the Marshall Circuit Court’s judgment in favor of Denise Devos and its finding that she acquired title to the disputed property with Patricia Whitt by adverse possession. Finds the trial court did not err in granting Devos’ request for adverse possession to the disputed property in its entirety.

Jermaine Carl Davis v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-PC-489
Post conviction. Affirms the denial of Jermaine Davis’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds the Lake Superior Court’s denial of Davis’ petition for ineffective assistance of counsel is not clearly erroneous.

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