Opinions May 22, 2020

Indiana Supreme Court
Brandon L. Johnson v. State of Indiana

20S-CR-61
Criminal. Reverses the denial of Brandon Johnson’s request to file a belated notice of appeal. Finds the general waiver of Johnson’s “right to appeal,” particularly when contained in the same sentence as an unenforceable waiver of post-conviction relief, was insufficiently explicit to establish a knowing and voluntary waiver of Johnson’s right to appeal his 12-year sentence for his conviction of Level 4 felony dealing in methamphetamine. Remands with instructions for the Orange Circuit Court to grant Johnson’s motion for permission to file a belated notice of appeal. Justice Geoffrey Slaughter dissents without separate opinion.

Indiana Court of Appeals
Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, f/k/a Helena Chemical Company v. Robert M. Jones, Mark A. Jones, and Jones Farms
19A-PL-2119
Civil plenary. Affirms the Harrison Circuit Court’s judgment in favor of Robert M. Jones, Mark A. Jones and Jones Farms against Helena Agri-Enterprises LLC. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting certain testimony concerning damages and test results pertaining to the Jones’ damaged seed wheat. Also finds the trial court did not err in entering judgment for damages in the amount awarded by the jury in favor of Jones Farms.

N.H. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-JV-2876
Juvenile. Affirms the finding in Marion Superior Court that N.H. committed the delinquent act of escape, which would be a Level 6 felony if committed by an adult. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in the admission of challenged exhibits.

Marquise Marcel Harvey v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
20A-CR-12
Criminal. Affirms the three-year sentence imposed on Marquise Harvey for his conviction in Lake Superior Court of Level 5 felony robbery. Finds the sentence was not inappropriate.

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: D.W. (Minor Child), and R.W. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, et al. (mem. dec.)
19A-JT-2587
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the termination of mother R.W.’s parental rights to D.W. Finds the Marion Superior Court properly concluded that the continuation of the parent-child relationship posed a threat to the child’s wellbeing and that termination was in the child’s best interests.

Mario Watkins v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-CR-1846
Criminal. Affirms Mario Watkins’ convictions in Vanderburgh Circuit Court of Level 2 and Level 3 felony dealing in methamphetamine, his adjudication as a habitual offender, and his 30-year aggregate sentence. Finds the trial court did not err in denying Watkins’ motion to sever his two drug-dealing charges and that his sentence was not inappropriate.

James Monteze Johnson v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-CR-2160
Criminal. Affirms the Grant Superior Court’s 5½-year sentence imposed on James Monteze Johnson after he was convicted of Level 5 felony possession of a narcotic drug. Finds the sentence was not inappropriate.

James A. Holder, Sr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-CR-1927
Criminal. Affirms the Marion Superior Court order revoking James Holder’s probation. Finds Holder knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his right to counsel in the revocation proceedings.

In the Matter of the Involuntary Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of E.B. (Minor Child) and D.B. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)
19A-JT-2287
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the Clay Circuit Court’s termination of father D.B.’s parental rights to E.B., finding the court did not clearly err.

Kevin Sweat v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-CR-3077
Criminal. Affirms the denial of Kevin Sweat’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea and his aggregate sentence of 47 years for convictions of Class A and Class C felony counts of child molesting, Level 4 felony sexual misconduct with a minor, Level 5 felony child seduction and Class B felony incest. The Tippecanoe Superior Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Sweat’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea or in sentencing him, and the sentence is not inappropriate.

Donnie Shirrell v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-CR-2883
Criminal. Remands Donnie Shirrell’s invasion of privacy sentence to the Marion Superior Court with instructions for the court to amend its sentencing order to reflect the specific probation costs imposed on Shirrell. The trial court was required to state the specific amount of probation costs Shirrell is obligated to pay.

M.A. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-JV-2836
Juvenile. Affirms the Elkhart Circuit Court adjudication of M.A. as a delinquent, finding the evidence sufficient to support the determination that she committed what would be Level 3 felony child molesting if committed by an adult.

Travis Stuttle v. Rebecca Stuttle (mem. dec.)
19A-DN-2905
Domestic relations no children. Reverses the Huntington Superior Court order finding Travis Stuttle in contempt for changing the beneficiary of his life insurance policy in purported violation of a settlement agreement. Finds the order was erroneous. Remands for proceedings.

Jack Putnick v. Laura (Iles) Putnick (mem. dec.)
18A-DC-2674
Domestic relations with children. Affirms the Switzerland Circuit Court order dissolving the marriage of Jack Putnick and Laura (Iles) Putnik. Finds the trial court did not err or abuse it discretion in grating primary physical custody of minor son J.P. to Laura or in ordering Jack to pay $750 of Laura’s attorney fees.

Jose Luis Izaguirre v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
19A-CR-2793
Criminal. Affirms on interlocutory appeal the denial of Jose Izaguirre’s motion to suppress statements made to police in connection with three counts of Level 1 felony child molesting against him. The Kosciusko Superior Court did not abuse its discretion by rejecting Izaguirre’s argument that did not understand his Miranda advisement because it was in English. Finds his confession in the presence of the child’s mother during police questioning was free, voluntary and not induced by violence, threats, promises or other improper influences.

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