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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 5 NFP memorandum decision(s))

For publication opinions today (2):

In State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company v. Sean Woodgett, a 16page opinion, Judge Brown writes:

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) appeals the trial court’s order on verdict and judgment in favor of Sean Woodgett. State Farm raises three issues, one of which we find dispositive and which we revise and restate as whether the court abused its discretion in excluding certain evidence. We reverse and remand. * * *

The dispositive issue is whether the trial court abused its discretion in excluding evidence of the second automobile accident. We review a trial court’s decision to admit or exclude evidence for an abuse of discretion. * * *

State Farm argues that evidence of the second accident was admissible to inform the jury as to a possible cause of Woodgett’s migraine headaches and that the court abused its discretion in excluding this evidence, ruling that it “was not admissible because it was not supported by any expert medical testimony to demonstrate a connection . . . .” * * *

The court abused its discretion when it excluded evidence of a second automobile accident involving Woodgett, which was inconsistent with substantial justice. We reverse the court’s judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion. * * *

For the foregoing reasons, we reverse the court’s judgment and remand.

In Christina Schermerhorn v. State of Indiana, a 17-page opinion, Sr. Judge Sharpnack writes:
Schermerhorn argues the trial court should have allowed her to present to the jury the August 2011 audio recording of Stanley choking his teenage son in her presence, along with her testimony about the incident. She further contends the court’s error deprived her of her right to present a defense under the federal and state constitutions. The State responds that Schermerhorn’s evidence was inadmissible under Indiana’s Rules of Evidence and, as a result, her constitutional rights were not violated. * * *

Pursuant to Indiana Code section 35-31.5-2-109, the “past course of conduct” is limited to “repeated physical or sexual abuse” of the defendant by the victim. The statutes do not address acts by the victim against third parties in the defendant’s presence.

Based on the statutory language, we cannot conclude that the recording of Stanley purportedly choking his teenage son two years before the crimes at issue was relevant to Schermerhorn’s effects of battery defense. * * *

In any event, even if the recording should have been admitted, the error was harmless. An error in the exclusion of evidence is harmless if its probable impact on the jury, in light of all of the evidence in the case, is sufficiently minor so as not to affect the defendant’s substantial rights. * * *

Schermerhorn argues the trial court should have given her proposed jury instructions on the effects of battery. The State claims in response that the court’s instructions correctly stated the law.

NFP civil decisions today (3):

In the Term. of the Parent-Child Relationship of: T.G. and A.G. (Minor Children) and J.B. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)

Rita Horn and Charles Horn v. Cesar Antonio Jara, M.D. and Northwest Indiana Cardiovascular Physicians, P.C. (mem. dec.)

Z.C. v. J.K. (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (2):

Cesar A. Castaneda v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Jesse E. Kaufman v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 20, 2016 12:18 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions