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Friday, January 13, 2017

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 3 opinion(s) today (and 15 NFP memorandum decision(s))

For publication opinions today (3):

In Samuel W. Koonce v. Kim M. Finney , a 22-page opinion, Judge May writes:

Samuel W. Koonce (“Husband”) appeals an order denying his Verified Motion for Relief from Judgment Pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B)(6) and his Verified Motion to Clarify Dissolution Decree. We affirm. * * *

Because the Dissolution Court’s Divorce Decree was not void, Husband is not entitled to relief from the judgment under Rule 60(B)(6). The Civil Court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Husband’s motion to clarify. We accordingly affirm.

In Rodney Tyms-Bey v. State of Indiana, a 2-1, 26-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:
Rodney Tyms-Bey brings this interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s order granting the State’s motion to strike his notice of defense under Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Our legislature has carved out a statutory exception to RFRA protections when the government’s imposition of a burden furthers a compelling interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. We find as a matter of law that the State’s compelling interest in a uniform and mandatory taxation system falls into the statutory exception such that RFRA affords no relief to Tyms-Bey. Therefore, we affirm and remand for further proceedings. * * *

We adopt the analysis of the Lee Court and hold as a matter of law that, in the context of Indiana’s RFRA, there is a compelling governmental interest in collecting income tax revenue. Moreover, we hold as a matter of law that the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling interest is uniform and mandatory participation in the income tax system. There are no facts that TymsBey could proffer with respect to his exercise of religion that would not be overcome by the State’s compelling interest and the means used by the State in furthering that interest. In other words, as a matter of law, Indiana’s RFRA offers no protection for the allegedly criminal nonpayment of income taxes by TymsBey, and the trial court did not err by denying his request to assert the defense.

The judgment of the trial court is affirmed and remanded for further proceedings.

Vaidik, C.J., concurs.

Najam, J., dissents with a separate opinion. [that begins, on p. 10 of 26] I respectfully dissent. Tyms-Bey’s alleged RFRA defense may ultimately not succeed, but he is entitled to his day in court. The majority’s holding that, in effect, Tyms-Bey has not stated a claim under RFRA and that he is not even entitled to present evidence in support of his alleged defense is too quick to dispose of Tyms-Bey’s claim and denies him the particularized adjudication that is expressly afforded to him by Indiana’s RFRA. Moreover, in enacting Indiana’s RFRA, our legislature explicitly reserved to itself, and withheld from our judiciary, the right to declare categorical exemptions from RFRA’s application. The majority’s holding disregards that command and categorically removes tax-based actions from RFRA’s application. The majority’s analysis further misunderstands the least restrictive means test under RFRA and denies Tyms-Bey his right under Article 1, Section 19 of the Indiana Constitution. And the majority’s selective use of federal authority fails to consider federal cases in which religious exemptions from facially neutral tax laws have been permitted, and, in any event, the authority relied on by the majority is readily distinguishable. * * *

Tyms-Bey is entitled to his day in court and to the same due process as any other criminal defendant, including his right to present his affirmative defense to a jury. Otherwise, RFRA is for naught and offers no more protection to the exercise of religion than does the First Amendment. Accordingly, I would reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for further proceedings that comply with the unmistakable commands of RFRA, with Article 1, Section 19, and with the same criminal trial procedure we follow when, as here, the defendant asserts an affirmative defense.

In K.G. v. State of Indiana , a 6-page opinion, Judge Altice writes:

K.G. appeals from his adjudication as a delinquent for committing an act that would constitute Class A misdemeanor theft if committed by an adult. Relying upon Ind. Code § 31-37-11-2(b), K.G. argues that he was entitled to discharge because the fact-finding hearing was not commenced within sixty days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, of the petition being filed. * * *

Although Section 2 uses “must” regarding the time limits for holding the hearing, we conclude that the term is intended to be directory rather than mandatory in this context. Cf. Parmeter v. Cass Cty. Dep’t of Child Servs., 878 N.E.2d 444, 448 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007) (regarding the required timing of a dispositional hearing in a CHINS case, the court found that the use of the term “shall” in the applicable statutes was directory rather than mandatory). Accordingly, we decline the invitation to read a discharge remedy into Section 2(b) that the legislature did not mandate, especially where the legislature specified precise remedies in other parts of the chapter. Judgment affirmed.

NFP civil decisions today (4):

In the Matter of D.T.T., A Child Alleged to be in Need of Services, M.T. v. Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)

In the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of: B.L.D.H. (Minor Child), and D.D. (Mother) & B.H. (Father) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services (mem. dec.)

Rachea Eytcheson v. Jason Eytcheson (mem. dec.)

Brian S. Moore v. Del Anderson (mem. dec.)

NFP criminal decisions today (11):

X.T. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Ricky Snelling v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Samuel Pinkston v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Craig Nesbitt v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Edward M. Tate, Jr. v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Lavon Washington v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Nancy L. Robinson v. James Robinson (mem. dec.)

Samuel L. Wait v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Dwana Prince v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Kazie Sekou Cole v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Zachary Asher v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 13, 2017 12:21 PM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions