Opinions Jan. 27, 2020

The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline Tuesday:
Rodriquez Anderson v. State of Indiana
21S-CR-28
Criminal. Grants transfer and summarily affirms the Indiana Court of Appeals’ decision remanding Rodriquez Anderson’s sentence to the Clark Circuit Court to correct the improper one-year sentence imposed for his conviction of Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana, concurrent to his 25-year sentence for conviction of Level 2 felony conspiracy to deal methamphetamine. Rejects Anderson’s claim that he was improperly denied a speedy trial because counsel had been appointed at the time Anderson made his pro se request, so the trial court acted within its discretion in denying the request.

Wednesday opinions
Indiana Court of Appeals
Harmony Spring Clara Scott v. State of Indiana
20A-CR-1131
Criminal. Affirms Harmony Scott’s 14-year sentence for her conviction of one count of Level 3 felony robbery and three counts of Level 5 felony fraud. Finds the LaPorte Circuit Court abused its discretion in refusing to include Scott’s history of human trafficking victimization as a mitigating circumstance in its sentencing order, but the error was harmless. Also finds Scott has not shown that her sentence was inappropriate.

Bradley C. Back v. State of Indiana
20A-PC-1173
Post conviction. Affirms the denial of Bradley C. Back’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds Back has not demonstrated that the post-conviction court committed error when it determined trial counsel was not ineffective because he adequately conveyed all of the state’s plea offers to his client. Also finds the post-conviction court did not err when it corrected the transcript from Back’s guilty plea hearing once it was notified there existed a possible error.

CHINS: E.P. v. Indiana Department of Child Services
20A-JC-1268
Juvenile CHINS. Reverses and remands the Marion Superior Court’s finding that father E.P.’s children J.P. and M.P. are children in need of services and the juvenile court’s dispositional order granting wardship to the Indiana Department of Child Services. Concludes that the Department of Child Services did not prove that the coercive intervention of the court was necessary to ensure the children’s care, and therefore, that the juvenile court clearly erred in adjudicating the children to be in need of services.

Tracy Ladra v. State of Indiana, et al.
20A-CT-1418
Civil tort. Majority affirms the Porter Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment to state defendants on Tracy Ladra’s claims in a personal injury lawsuit arising from injuries she sustained in an auto accident. Finds Ladra has failed to designated evidence to establish a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment for the state. Judge Elizabeth Tavitas dissents with opinion and would reverse the trial court.

David V. Woodring v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-915
Criminal. Affirms David V. Woodring’s sentence to five years, with 2½ years suspended but not served on probation, for his conviction of Level 5 felony dealing in cocaine. Finds the Johnson Superior Court did not err in identifying aggravating and mitigating sentencing factors. Also finds Woodring has failed to establish that his sentence is inappropriate.

Muhamed Dugonjic v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-PC-1015
Post conviction. Affirms the denial of Muhamed Dugonjic’s petition for post-conviction relief. Finds Dugonjic was not prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to secure a certified translator to testify at trial, nor was he prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to obtain a transcript or a playable video of A.D.’s police interview. Also finds Dugonjic’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to raise an evidentiary harpoon objection to evidence of his attempt to interview A.D. at A.D.’s home. Finally, finds Dugonjic’s appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge the denial of his tendered jury instructions in Hamilton Superior Court.

Joseph P. Morrison v. Angela M. Morrison (mem. dec.)
20A-DR-1071
Domestic relations. Reverses the denial of father Joseph Morrison’s request to relocate from Indiana to Alabama with his 9-year-old son P.M. and the order for Joseph to pay $15,869.45 in attorney fees to mother Angela Morrison. Finds Angela failed to prove the Alabama move was not in P.M.’s best interest. Also finds the Gibson Superior Court abused its discretion in awarding attorney fees where the evidence clearly shows they were not warranted. Remands for proceedings.

Kevin L. Martin v. State of Indiana, et al. (mem. dec.)
20A-CT-1178
Civil tort. Affirms the dismissal of Kevin L. Martin’s complaint in LaPorte Circuit Court alleging Fourth and Eighth Amendment violations during his incarceration in the Indiana Department of Correction. Finds that Martin does not argue that he made a request for recusal. Also finds he did not develop a cogent argument on appeal. Finally, finds Martin has failed to establish actual bias which would warrant reversing the dismissal of his complaint.

Whitney D. Mitchell v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1383
Criminal. Affirms Whitney Mitchell’s sentence to 1½ years executed in the Indiana Department of Correction for her conviction in Bartholomew Circuit Court of Level 6 felony unlawful possession of a syringe. Finds Mitchell has not carried her burden to prove that her sentence is inappropriate based on the nature of the offense or her character.

Ryan D. Alexander v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1453
Criminal. Affirms Ryan D. Alexander’s 13-year sentence for his convictions of Level 4 felony burglary and Level 6 felony possession of methamphetamine. Finds the Jefferson Superior Court did not err in considering probable cause affidavits in imposing Alexander’s sentence. Also finds Alexander’s due process rights were not violated because he was denied the opportunity to argue for a community corrections placement due to outstanding fees. Finally, finds Alexander has failed to prove that his 12-year sentence for Level 4 felony burglary is inappropriate.

John Jeffery Bates v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1674
Criminal. Affirms John Jeffery Bates’ 3-year prison sentence for his convictions in Jennings Circuit Court of domestic battery and intimidation. Finds Bates’ sentence is not inappropriate.

Tammie M. Church v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-1791
Criminal. Affirms the revocation of Tammie M. Church’s probation and the imposition of her previously-suspended four-year sentence for her convictions of Class C felony robbery and Class A misdemeanor battery. Finds the Vigo Superior Court properly imposed part of Church’s previously suspended sentence. Remands for correction of the abstract of judgment with respect to the scrivener’s error related to Church’s misdemeanor conviction.

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