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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues three more opinions today

In Villas West II of Willowridge Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Edna McGlothin, a 15-page, 3-2 opinion, Chief Justice Shepard writes:

A homeowner whose deed contained various covenants applicable to her subdivision rented out her residence, notwithstanding a covenant not to do so. Her homeowners association sued to enforce the prohibition, and she countersued, claiming that the agreement she had made through the covenant violated the Fair Housing Act. Her counter-complaint appeared to include elements of two very different claims—disparate impact and intentional discrimination.

The trial court granted her relief, appearing largely to rely on disparate impact. We conclude that relief on these grounds was erroneous. We remand for reconsideration of the intentional discrimination claims. * * *

We reverse the judgment of the trial court on the claim of disparate impact and remand for reconsideration of the claim of intentional discrimination.

Dickson and Boehm, JJ., concur.
Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion in which Sullivan, J., concurs: The majority works overtime and spends much ink to argue that Arlington Heights II is flawed and should not be followed. * * * Indeed, applying the Arlington Heights II factors, both the trial court and the Court of Appeals concluded that Villas West’s restrictive covenant violated the Federal Fair Housing Act because of its disparate impact on members of the African American community residing in the City of Kokomo. I agree and would affirm the judgment of the trial court. Therefore I dissent.

In Alan C. Jones v. State of Indiana, a 6-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:
The defendant, Alan C. Jones, appeals from the trial court's order revoking his probation and suspended sentence, ordering him to serve the full sentence imposed, finding him to be a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP), and ordering him to register as an SVP for his lifetime. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Jones v. State, 873 N.E.2d 725 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007). We granted transfer and now hold that the language of the SVP statute does not authorize a trial court to initiate an SVP determination for the first time during a probation revocation proceeding. * * *

Because the SVP evaluation and determination was incorrectly first commenced during the defendant's probation revocation proceedings, we must vacate that portion of the trial court order of March 1, 2007, finding the defendant to be a Serious Violent Predator. The defendant remains subject, however, to the trial court's order that he must register as a Sex Offender for ten years following his release from incarceration. We also affirm that portion of the order revoking the defendant's ten-year suspension and reinstating the original sentence.

In Dawn Elizabeth McDowell v. State of Indiana, a 6-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Dickson writes:
Dawn Elizabeth McDowell appeals her conviction and sentence for Voluntary Manslaughter, a class A felony for the death of Christopher Crume. The Court of Appeals affirmed. McDowell v. State, 872 N.E.2d 689 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007). We granted transfer and find that State's tendered instruction should not have been given because it authorized the jury to infer an intent to kill simply because a death resulted from a deadly weapon in the hands of the defendant. * * *

The reversal of the defendant's conviction for Voluntary Manslaughter as class A felony does not preclude the State from retrying the defendant upon this charge. At the conclusion of the defendant's first trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of Aggravated Battery, a class B felony, Involuntary Manslaughter, a class C felony, and Voluntary Manslaughter, a class A felony. The trial court entered judgments of conviction on all counts, but then, noting double jeopardy concerns, ordered the convictions for Aggravated Battery and Involuntary Manslaughter vacated, leaving only a single conviction upon the Voluntary Manslaughter charge, on which the defendant was sentenced. Because the elements of the counts charging Aggravated Battery and Involuntary Manslaughter do not include the intent to kill, the error in giving the challenged instruction does not impair the reliability and validity of these other convictions. In reversing the conviction for Voluntary Manslaughter, justice and fairness require that we also set aside the trial court's order vacating the convictions on the other counts.

In the event the State chooses to dismiss this count, or if retrial does not result in a conviction on this count, the trial court shall enter judgment and sentence the defendant based upon the jury's verdicts finding the defendant guilty of each the remaining offenses, subject to any further double jeopardy considerations, which are not presented or addressed in this opinion.

The judgment of the trial court is reversed and this cause remanded for new trial or such other proceedings as are consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 15, 2008 03:24 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions