Opinions Jan. 22, 2020

The following 7th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion was posted after IL deadline Thursday:
Francina Smith v. GC Services Limited Partnership and ORG GC GP Buyer, LLC
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge Richard L. Young.
Civil. Affirms the dismissal of Francina Smith’s complaint against GC Services under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act for lack of Article III standing. Finds Smith has not alleged how a need to dispute the debt in writing deterred her from disputing the debt, or what good a dispute would have done her.

Friday’s opinions
7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Anne Marnocha v. St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, Inc. and St. Vincent Carmel Hospital, Inc.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. Judge James R. Sweeney II.
Civil. Affirms the grant of summary judgment to St. Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center, Inc. and St. Vincent Carmel Hospital, Inc. on Dr. Anne Marnocha’s termination and failure to hire claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Finds that apart from a minor factual error in the district court’s opinion, there was no genuine dispute of material fact for either claim, so summary judgment was appropriate.

Indiana Court of Appeals
James C. Absher v. State of Indiana
Post conviction. Affirms and reverses in part the denial of James C. Absher’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds Absher’s trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to object to the untimely amendment to the charging information, so the post-conviction court improperly denied relief on that claim. Also finds that Absher did not receive ineffective assistance when his trial counsel failed to object to the prosecutor’s comments in Floyd Circuit Court. Finally, finds Absher’s appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to raise a claim that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for Count 2, Class A felony child molesting. Remands with instructions to vacate Absher’s convictions and sentences for counts of Class A and Class C felony child molesting, thus reducing his aggregate sentence from 100 to 50 years in prison.

Joseph Chapo, Sherry Chapo, and Deputy Big Shot, LLC v. Jefferson County Plan Commission
Civil tort. Affirms the denial of Joseph and Sherry Chapo and Deputy Bigshot LLC’s motion for relief from judgment following the entry in Jefferson Circuit Court of a preliminary injunction and contempt finding against them and in favor of the Jefferson County Planning Commission. Finds that although planning commission members are officers required to take an oath under Indiana Code § 5-4-1-1, their failure to do so did not invalidate the commission’s actions because the members are de facto officers.

Jonathon Cavins v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Dr. Jonathon Cavins’ convictions of two counts of Level 4 felony child molesting, one count of Level 5 felony sexual misconduct with a minor and two counts of Level 6 felony child seduction, and his aggregate 23-year sentence, with four years suspended to probation. Finds the state introduced sufficient evidence to sustain Cavins’ convictions. Also finds the Boone Superior Court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Cavins, and his sentence is not inappropriately harsh.

Malcolm Levell Adams v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Malcolm Levell Adams’ conviction of involuntary manslaughter. Finds that an amendment to the involuntary manslaughter indictment right before trial started aligned the indictment with statute by removing language not contained in the relevant statute, so Adams’ substantial rights were not prejudiced. Also finds sufficient evidence to support Adams’ conviction in Lake Superior Court.

Juan Carlos Rojas v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Juan Rojas’ conviction of murder. Finds the prosecutor did not engage in misconduct in St. Joseph Superior Court. Also finds there is sufficient evidence to support the conviction.

Robert D. Littlejohn v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Robert D. Littlejohn’s conviction of felony murder and his sentence to 60 years executed. Finds the Allen Superior Court did not abuse its discretion when it declined to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter. Also finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion by failing to adopt Littlejohn’s proposed mitigating factors. Finally, finds Littlejohn’s sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of his offense and his character.

Jerald J. Roberts v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms Jerald Roberts’ sentence to two years executed in the Department of Correction and three years suspended to probation for his convictions of Level 5 felony domestic battery with a deadly weapon and Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy. Finds Roberts’ sentence is not inappropriate.

William Thomas Gudger v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Post conviction. Reverses the denial of William Thomas Gudger’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds the post-conviction court erred by summarily denying Gudger’s petition that was premised on a factual claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Remands to Howard Superior Court for further proceedings.

Teresa Yates v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Reverses Teresa Yates’ conviction of Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Finds the state did not present sufficient evidence in Marion Superior Court that Yates engaged in tumultuous conduct.

In the Matter of the Commitment of E.F., E.F. v. Health and Hospital Corporation d/b/a Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center (mem. dec.)
Mental health. Reverses the order temporarily committing E.F. to Eskenazi Mental Health Center. Finds Eskenazi failed to prove that E.F. is gravely disabled. Also finds the Marion Superior Court’s order for involuntary commitment was not supported by sufficient evidence.

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