Opinions Nov. 22, 2023

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The following Indiana Supreme Court opinion was posted after IL deadline on Tuesday:
Keller J. Mellowitz v. Ball State University and Board of Trustees of Ball State University, and State of Indiana
Civil plenary. Affirms the order directing that while Keller Mellowitz may pursue his claims against Ball State on his own behalf, he may not pursue a class action on behalf of other students. Finds Public Law No. 166-2021 does not violate the constitutional separation of powers because its limited scope reflects that it predominantly furthers a public policy objective. Also finds the law does not unconstitutionally take Mellowitz’s property without just compensation because he has no property right to sue on behalf of others through a class action. Finally, finds the law does not unconstitutionally impair Mellowitz’s contract with Ball State because the General Assembly did not relieve Ball State of any of its contractual obligations to Mellowitz, which is why the trial court is permitting to pursue his individual claims against the university.

Wednesday opinions
Court of Appeals of Indiana
In the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: A.L. and N.L. (Minor Children), And M.L. (Father) and L.L. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services
Juvenile termination of parental rights. Affirms the Lawrence Circuit Court’s termination of M.L. and L.L.’s parental rights to minor children N.L. and A.L. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to admit certain evidence requested by the parents. Also finds the Indiana Department of Child Services presented sufficient evidence to support its petitions to terminate the parent-child relationship.

Curtis Baker v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms Curtis Baker’s convictions of domestic battery and strangulation. Finds Baker has not shown fundamental error in the jury instructions. Also finds Baker’s convictions are not double jeopardy under Wadle v. State.

Zachary W. Hileman v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms Zachary Hileman’s convictions in Madison Circuit Court of felony murder and carrying a handgun without a license, a Class A misdemeanor. Finds the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Hileman’s proffered jury instructions on lesser-included offenses. Also finds Hileman waived review of the admissibility of certain evidence by failing to present a cogent argument.

Michael Ambrose Doyle, Jr. v. State of Indiana
Criminal. Affirms Michael Doyle’s convictions in Tippecanoe Superior Court of dealing in methamphetamine (10 grams or more), a Level 2 felony, and dealing in methamphetamine (between five and 10 grams), a Level 3 felony. Finds Joshua Sweet’s statements were properly admitted, and any error in the admission of Doyle’s Facebook messages was harmless. Also finds the trial court acted within its discretion when it rejected his proposed instruction.

Jamie Marie Russell v. Leonard Alan Russell
Domestic relations with children. Reverses the Marion Superior Court’s award of non-equal parenting time to Jamie Russell. Finds that a partial mediated agreement called for Jamie and Leonard Russell to have equal parenting time and that the trial court’s custody order awarded the mother less than equal parenting time. Remands with instructions that the trial court award equal parenting time pursuant to the partial mediated agreement between the parties. 

U.S. Bank National Association Not In Its Individual Capacity But Solely As Indenture Trustee For The CIM Trust 2019-R2 v. Unknown Heirs of Juanita A. O’Dell, Deceased, and BHOC (mem. dec.)
Mortgage foreclosure. Affirms the Orange Circuit Court’s denial of U.S. Bank National Association’s motion to reinstate its default judgment and complaint for foreclosure of note and mortgage against the Unknown Heirs of Juanita A. O’Dell and BHOC. Finds the trial court acted within its discretion in denying U.S. Bank’s motions to reinstate and to reconsider, where U.S. Bank failed to establish that a mistake had occurred that entitled it to reinstatement of its default judgment and complaint.

James D. Jarvis v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)
Criminal. Affirms James Jarvis’ 20-year sentence in Marion Superior Court for dealing in methamphetamine, a Level 2 felony. Finds Jarvis’s sentence is not inappropriate in light of the nature of the offense and his character.

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