Opinions Feb. 15, 2021

The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinions were posted after IL deadline Friday:

In re: Kevin T. Hall


Petition for a writ of mandamus. Issues a writ of mandamus directing the Southern Indiana District Court to rescind the transfer order of Kevin Hall’s case to the Middle District of Florida after Hall was transferred from a federal prison in Indiana to a federal prison in Florida, thus returning the case to the Southern District of Indiana. Finds that Hall’s case is similar to Ex parte Endo, thus requiring transfer back to Indiana. Also finds that mandamus is the proper vehicle for obtaining review of a transfer decision. Finally, finds that Hall does not have an adequate remedy available through his pending motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, and that Hall did not need to show prejudice before pursuing his venue challenge.

United States of America v. Angelica Guzman-Cordoba and Joel Alvarado-Santiago

19-2526, -2937

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.

Criminal. Affirms Angelica Guzman-Cordoba convictions of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and distribution of methamphetamine, Joel Alvarado-Santiago’s conviction of conspiracy to launder money, the forfeiture of $9,795 in cash from Guzman-Cordoba, and Alvarado-Santiago’s sentence. Finds the district court committed no reversible error.

Feb. 15, 2021

Indiana Court of Appeals

Terry L. Abbott v. State of Indiana


Civil plenary. Affirms summary judgment for the state of Indiana as to all property seized from Terry Abbott other than $8,923 in cash, but reverses the denial of his request for appointed counsel. Finds there are material issues of fact regarding a nexus between the seized cash and criminal activity, so the Elkhart Superior Court erred in granting summary judgment as to the bulk of the cash. Also finds that Abbott failed to show his entitlement to counsel at public expense, but under these circumstances, he should be permitted to use the res to pay for a lawyer, transcript and other expenses for his defense. Remands for further proceedings. Judge Nancy Vaidik concurs and dissents in part with separate opinion.

Sierra M. DeWees v. State of Indiana 


Criminal. Reverses the Clay Superior Court’s denial of Sierra DeWees’ motion for bond reduction or conditional pretrial release from a charge of Level 2 felony aiding, inducing or causing a burglary. Finds no support for the trial court’s finding that DeWees posed a risk to the physical safety of the alleged victim and abused its discretion by relying primarily on his testimony. Remands for the court to immediately order DeWees to remain released to pretrial home detention with GPS monitoring.

In Re the Adoption of E.B. (Minor Child) and K.M. (Biological Mother) v. J.B. and M-A.B. (Adoptive Parents)


Adoption. Affirms the finding that mother K.M.’s consent to the adoption of E.B. was not required under Indiana law. Finds the Johnson Superior Court’s finding was not clearly erroneous.

Anthony D. Smith v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)


Criminal. Affirms Anthony Smith’s convictions of felony murder and two counts of attempted murder as Level 1 felonies. Finds there is sufficient evidence to support Smith’s murder and attempted murder convictions.

Christopher M. Sutton v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)


Post conviction. Affirms the denial of Christopher M. Sutton’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds Sutton has not shown ineffective assistance of trial counsel as to the admission of evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, a motion for directed verdict and cumulative impact. Also finds Sutton has failed to show ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.

Tracey L. Wheeler v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)


Criminal. Affirms the denial of Tracey Wheeler’s petition for sentence modification. Finds that because Wheeler’s April 29, 2020, petition for sentence modification was at least the third such petition he filed in this case without prosecutor consent, the April 2020 petition was filed in violation of Indiana Code § 35-38-1-17(j). Also finds the Vigo Superior Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the April 2020 petition for sentence modification.

John C. Mefford v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)


Criminal. Affirms John Mefford’s termination from participation in the Jefferson County Drug Court Program, the entry of conviction for two Level 6 felonies and his sentence to five years executed. Finds the Jefferson Superior Court did not have discretion to impose anything less than the executed five years provided in Mefford’s plea agreement.

Brian Keith Gipson v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)


Criminal. Affirms the revocation of Brian Keith Gipson’s placement in a drug-court program and the order that he serve the remainder of his previously-stayed eight-year sentence in the Indiana Department of Correction for his conviction of Class C felony robbery. Finds that the admission of drug test results was harmless because the probable impact of the results did not affect Gipson’s substantial rights. Also finds the Delaware Circuit Court did not abuse its discretion in ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence.

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