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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the trial court requiring Defendant to pay $5,240.32 in restitution. Defendant pled guilty to level 6 felony auto theft, and the victim’s vehicle came back heavily spray-painted. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that insufficient evidence supported the restitution order because the record did not show that the spray-paint damage was attributable to the theft. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thus vacating the court of appeals opinion, and affirmed, holding (1) Defendant did not waive her right to appeal the amount of the restitution order; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering Defendant to pay restitution for the spray-paint damage because there was sufficient evidence that the spray-paint damage was a direct result of the underlying theft; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Defendant had the ability to pay restitution. View "Archer v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Under Indiana Code section 31-25-2-5, no family case manager at the Indiana Department of Child Services can oversee more than 17 children at a time who are receiving services. The statute does not require the Department to perform any specific, ministerial acts for achieving that number. Price, a family case manager, filed a proposed class action. She alleged that her caseload was 43 children and sought an “order mandating or enjoining [D]efendants to take all necessary steps to comply with [Section 5].” The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Price’s claim prior to class certification. Judicial mandate is an extraordinary remedy—available only when the law imposes a clear duty upon a defendant to perform a specific, ministerial act and the plaintiff is clearly entitled to that relief. The statute at issue does not impose a specific, ministerial duty. View "Price v. Indiana Department of Child Services; Director of Indiana Department of Child Services" on Justia Law

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When an individual reported child abuse, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) told the reporter that his report was confidential. The Department however, released the report without redacting the identity of the reporter. The reporter and his family sued DCS for negligently disclosing the reporter’s identity, claiming that the statute requiring DCS to protect reporter identity - Ind. Code 31-33-18-2 (section 2) - implies a private right of action and that DCS created a common-law duty of confidentiality. The trial court granted summary judgment for DCS. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that DCS owed Plaintiffs a common-law “private duty” based on a hotline worker’s “promise” of confidentiality. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thereby vacating the Court of Appeals decision, and held (1) section 2 provides no private right of action; and (2) there is no common law basis to impose a duty on DCS. View "John Doe #1 v. Indiana Department of Child Services" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court dismissing this action brought by the Board of Commissioners of Union County (Union County) seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction against the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Department itself (collectively, INDOT). In the action, Union County alleged that INDOT was negligent in its highway repair efforts, causing damage to the septic systems of three landowners in Union County. The trial court granted INDOT's motion to dismiss, concluding that Union County did not have standing to sue INDOT for injury done to its residents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err in dismissing the action because Union County failed to plead any viable theory of standing to support its alleged cause of action. View "Board of Commissioners of Union County v. McGuinness" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions, rendered after a jury trial, for committing various meth-related crimes with a drug-free-zone enhancement. The court of appeals reversed the drug-free=zone enhancement and remanded for resentencing, ruling that the evidence was insufficient that a child was “reasonably expected” to be presented at the park where Defendant’s crimes occurred because schools were in session and the park lacked fixtures like trees, benches, and playgrounds. The Supreme Court granted transfer, thus vacating the opinion of the court of appeals, holding that sufficient evidence allowed the jury to conclude that a minor was reasonably expected to be at the park. View "McAlpin v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment convicting Defendant of two counts of knowing murder, one count of conspiracy to commit arson, and dozens of counts of arson. The trial court sentenced Defendant to life without parole (LWOP) on each of the murder convictions and consecutive terms of years of conspiracy and arson. The Supreme Court rejected Defendant’s issues on appeal and affirmed his convictions and LWOP sentences, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the murder convictions and a statutory aggravator; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it refused Defendant’s lesser included jury instruction; and (3) Indiana’s LWOP sentencing statute is not unconstitutional. View "Leonard v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s order directing the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to grant Spirited Sales, LLC’s (Spirited) application for a liquor wholesaler’s permit and reinstated the Commission’s order denying the permit. Spirited was a wholly owned by a parent company called E.F. Transit, Inc. (EFT), which transports beer, wine, and liquor throughout the state. The same shareholders that owned EFT also wholly owned Monarch Beverage Company, Inc, an Indiana company that held a beer and wine wholesaler’s permit. The Commission denied Spirited’s application on the grounds that EFT and Monarch operated as the same company. The trial court reversed, finding the Commission’s order to be arbitrary and capricious. The Supreme Court agreed with the Commission, holding that the Commission’s denial conformed with the clear and unambiguous language of Ind. Code 7.1-1-2-1 and that the Commission did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying Spirited’s request. View "Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission v. Spirited Sales, LLC" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of Class A felony child molesting. During the plea hearing and at sentencing, the prosecutor, the defense counsel, and the trial court agreed that the statutory sentencing range for Defendant’s sentence was thirty to fifty years. Defendant was sentenced to a term of forty years. However, the statutory sentencing range for Defendant’s crime was twenty to fifty years. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court’s sentence was based on a mistaken understanding of the minimum sentence. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s sentence. The Supreme Court granted transfer and remanded the case to the trial court for resentencing, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, remand was appropriate. View "McGuire v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was charged with felony attempted murder and felony aggravated battery. The trial judge adjudged Defendant guilty but mentally ill on both counts. Defendant appealed, arguing in part that the State did not present sufficient evidence that he had the specific intent to kill, as required for attempt murder. The court of appeals reversed Defendant’s attempted murder conviction and remanded for a new trial. The State sought transfer. The Supreme Court granted transfer and reversed Defendant’s conviction for attempted murder, holding that a remand was required for the trial court to reconsider the case under the correct legal standard to the existing evidence. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction of Class A misdemeanor possession of a handgun with a license, holding that the State’s detention and search of Defendant was unreasonable under Ind. Const. art. I, 11. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction, concluding that Defendant’s behavior in evading police in a high crime area was sufficient to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that crime was afoot, especially where the officers believed Defendant was a truant. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ decision, holding that the police’s investigatory stop, detention, and search of Defendant violated Defendant’s constitutional rights because, although Defendant’s actions were “suspicious,” at the time police moved to detain Defendant, police did not have a reasonable suspicion that he had engaged in or was about to engage in any criminal conduct. View "Jacobs v. State" on Justia Law