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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 today (and 9 NFP)

For publication opinions today (3):

In Cody Waldrip v. Angela Waldrip, City of Bloomington, Indiana, Monroe County, Indiana, State of Indiana, a 28-page opinion, Judge Barnes writes:

Cody Waldrip appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his complaint against Angela Waldrip (“Angela”), the City of Bloomington (“Bloomington”), and Monroe County. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

The issues before us are:
I. whether Waldrip’s appeal was timely filed;
II. whether the trial court properly granted Bloomington’s motion for judgment on the pleadings;
III. whether the trial court properly dismissed all of Waldrip’s claims against Angela; and
IV. whether the trial court properly dismissed all of Waldrip’s claims against Monroe County. * * *

We affirm the dismissal of the complaint against Monroe County in its entirety. We also affirm the dismissal of those counts of the complaint against Angela that raised claims of false imprisonment, abuse of process, civil perjury, tortious interference with child custody and/or parenting time, and defamation. Waldrip has demonstrated prima facie error in dismissal of the counts against Angela for malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress; we reverse the dismissal of those counts and remand for further proceedings on them. We also reverse the granting of Bloomington’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and remand for further proceedings on all of Waldrip’s claims against Bloomington.

In State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Alan Steady v. Richard Kern, a 7-page opinion, Chief Judge Robb writes:
A jury found Alan Steady one-hundred percent at fault for injuries Ronald Kern sustained when the two were involved in a car accident, and a $98,000 judgment was entered against Steady to compensate Kern for his injuries. Because Steady was only insured up to $25,000, State Farm, Kern’s insurer, paid Kern underinsured motorist benefits. Steady requested that the trial court deem the judgment against him satisfied because Kern was compensated by State Farm, and the trial court granted Steady’s motion. State Farm appeals, raising one issue for our review: whether the trial court erred when it deemed the judgment entered against Steady satisfied. Concluding the trial court did err, we reverse and remand. * * *

The judgment entered against Steady should not have been deemed satisfied due to State Farm’s underinsured motorist coverage payment to Kern, and therefore the trial court erred. We reverse and remand to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

In Efren Mendoza-Vargas v. State of Indiana , a 12-page opinion, Judge Mathias writes:
Efren Mendoza-Vargas (“Mendoza-Vargas”) was convicted in Elkhart Superior Court of Class A felony dealing in methamphetamine, Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance, and Class D felony possession of marijuana. Mendoza-Vargas appeals and claims that the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence regarding Mendoza-Vargas’s post-Miranda statements to the police. Concluding that the police failed to scrupulously honor Mendoza-Vargas’s right to remain silent, we reverse and remand for retrial. * * *

Here, the record indicates that after being informed of his Miranda rights, Mendoza-Vargas was asked if he wanted to answer questions. Mendoza-Vargas responded by shaking his head “no.” This was an obvious invocation of his right to remain silent. But instead of immediately ceasing any questions, the police continued to question Mendoza-Vargas even after he had invoked his right to remain silent. The undercover officer told Mendoza-Vargas that he could “help himself out” by cooperating with the police, noted that dealing drugs carried a harsh prison sentence, and asked Mendoza-Vargas if he knew people in Elkhart County who dealt drugs. This can hardly be called “scrupulously honoring” Mendoza-Vargas’s right to remain silent. Instead, it was an effort to induce Mendoza-Vargas into answering questions.

The undercover officer then asked Mendoza-Vargas a question regarding rubber bands found in the house, prompting translator Gomez to remind the officer that Mendoza-Vargas had indicated that he did not want to answer any questions. Still, Mendoza-Vargas apparently understood enough English to comprehend the question without translation and asked Gomez whether he had to answer that question, indicating that he was unsure of whether he had to answer questions despite his invocation of his right to remain silent.

Then, instead of waiting for any substantial period of time, Gomez asked Mendoza-Vargas if he needed time to think about whether he wanted to answer any questions. Again, this appears to have been an attempt to induce him to cooperate by answering questions. When Mendoza-Vargas indicated that he needed a few minutes to think things over, the police gave Mendoza-Vargas some time. But when the undercover officer asked Mendoza-Vargas if he could ask him a question, he asked the question before Mendoza-Vargas indicated that he did, in fact, wish to answer questions at that time. And when Mendoza-Vargas chose to answer, the officer chose not to give Mendoza-Vargas new Miranda warnings.

Under these facts and circumstances, we are unable to conclude that the State met its burden of proving that Mendoza-Vargas’s right to remain silent was scrupulously honored. * * *

Here, we are unable to say that evidence regarding Mendoza-Vargas’s own incriminating statements had no impact on the jury’s decision. This is not a case where the evidence is overwhelming and the defendant’s own incriminating statements would have little impact on the jury’s decision to convict. Instead, the State argued the theory of constructive possession because Mendoza-Vargas was not found in direct possession of any of the substances and relied on Mendoza-Vargas’s statements during its closing argument to bolster its claim of constructive possession and intent. We therefore reverse Mendoza-Vargas’s convictions and remand for retrial, at which Mendoza-Vargas’s statements to the police shall be inadmissible given the police failure to scrupulously honor Mendoza-Vargas’s invocation of his right to remain silent.

NFP civil opinions today (1):

In the Matter of the Term. of Parent-Child Rel. of Ge.S. & O.S., and G.S. v. The Indiana Dept. of Child Services (NFP)

NFP criminal opinions today (8):

George Sanders v. State of Indiana (NFP)

D. Frank Winconek v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Abigail Begeman v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Ellis DeBerry v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Gerald Jerome Cox v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Robert Wendel v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Angela B. Tate v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Darius Jiggetts v. State of Indiana (NFP)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 20, 2012 11:55 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions