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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides two today

In Donald W. Myers, III. v. State of Indiana, a 20-page, 4-1 opinion, Justice David writes:

Donald W. Myers, III, has a history of mental illness, and has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Unprovoked, Myers fired a shotgun several times at multiple vehicles, including a police cruiser. Myers was ultimately convicted on four counts of attempted murder. The jury found Myers guilty but mentally ill. Myers claims that no reasonable jury could have reached this conclusion and that he should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity. Myers also asserts that any reference during trial to his request for an attorney and refusal to speak to the police after the incident violated his constitutional right to due process.

We hold that there was no due process violation. Additionally, we seek to emphasize the great adherence our judicial system affords to the right of a trial by jury and the verdicts reached by those juries. * * * Having completed our review, we affirm the jury’s verdict finding Myers guilty but mentally ill. * * *

There was sufficient evidence for a jury to draw a reasonable inference that the defendant was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at the time of the offense. The admission of testimony regarding Myers’ convoluted request for counsel and refusal to speak to police did not constitute a due process violation. In addition, Myers’ sentence is not inappropriate given the nature of the offense and his character, nor was it inappropriate for the trial court to order his sentences to be served consecutively. Therefore, we affirm Myers’ convictions of guilty but mentally ill, and affirm his sentence of one hundred and twenty years for four counts of Class A felony attempted murder.

Rush, C.J., Dickson and Massa, J.J., concur.

Rucker, J., dissents with separate opinion. [which begins, at p. 18] In Galloway v. State [ILB: which was a 3-2 opinion], this Court evaluated the circumstances under which a defendant is entitled to a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity despite a fact-finder’s verdict to the contrary. See 938 N.E.2d 699 (Ind. 2010). Because today’s opinion retreats from and thus undermines Galloway, I respectfully dissent. * * *

Because I can discern no appreciable difference between the facts in this case and those in Galloway, I agree with my colleagues on the Court of Appeals that “the jury clearly erred in rejecting Myers’s insanity defense.” Myers v. State, No. 76A03-1305-CR-173, 2014 WL 1478844, at *10 (Ind. Ct. App. Apr. 14, 2014). Accordingly I would reverse Myers’ four Class A felony attempted murder convictions[1]
[1] I also note the observations of my Court of Appeals colleagues: “Myers has been and remains institutionalized in a secure facility within Indiana’s mental health system. Unless new psychotropic medications sufficient to treat his serious mental illness are developed, he will likely remain institutionalized for the rest of his life.” Myers, 2014 WL 1478844, at *5 n.1.

In Cohen & Malad, LLP v. John P. Daly, Jr., Golitko & Daly, P.C., and Golitko Legal Group, P.C., a 2-page, 5-0, per curiam decision in a fee dispute between two law firms, the Court concludes:

Absent agreement otherwise, “a lawyer retained under a contingent fee contract but discharged prior to the contingency is entitled to recover the value of services rendered if there is a subsequent settlement or award[,]” and in that case, “the fee is to be measured by the proportion of the total fee equal to the contribution of the discharged lawyer’s efforts to the ultimate result[.]” Galanis v. Lyons & Truitt, 715 N.E.2d 858, 860 (Ind. 1999). The trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law do not acknowledge Galanis or apply its standards. Accordingly, we reverse and remand with instructions to determine, in accordance with Galanis, what proportional contributions toward the results in the cases at issue were made by attorneys working for C & M, and to enter a corresponding judgment in C & M’s favor. We summarily affirm the part of the Court of Appeals opinion addressing whether C & M should have sued its former clients to recover attorney fees from them. See Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(2).

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 8, 2015 03:05 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions