Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Indiana
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court dismissing this action under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6) but modified the judgment to reflect that the dismissal was without prejudice, holding that the church-autonomy doctrine applied in this case and required its dismissal under Rule 12(B)(6).Plaintiff sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc., asserting intentional interference with his contract and employment with Cathedral High School. The Archdiocese moved to the dismiss the complaint and invoked three defenses under the First Amendment, including the church-autonomy defense. The trial court dismissed the case with prejudice for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that dismissal under Rule 12(B)(1) was improper but that the church-autonomy doctrine barred Plaintiff's claims. View "Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's convictions for several drug-related offenses, holding that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence obtained during a search of Defendant's home.Officer Cody Scott was investigating a robbery when he detained Defendant for an outstanding warrant for his arrest. The officer asked Defendant if he would escort him inside the house, and Defendant agreed to the request. After Officer Scott observed possible narcotics in the residence he obtained a search warrant, the execution of which revealed various drug paraphernalia. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant's convictions, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying Defendant's motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant's protections under Pirtle v. State, 323 N.E.2d 634 (Ind. 1975), were violated in this case, and therefore, the trial court abused its discretion by admitting evidence obtained during the search. View "McCoy v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the the order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of the Gary Housing Authority and dismissing allegations that the Housing Authority's notice of its administrative taking of 624 Broadway, LLC's property was constitutionally deficient, holding that the deficient notice was not harmless.The Housing Authority only provided notice of its taking of 624 Broadway's property by publication, despite knowing how to contact the LLC. After 624 Broadway unsuccessfully requested the Housing Authority to postpone the meeting to its appraiser could assess the property 624 Broadway brought this complaint, alleging that the Housing Authority violated its federal due process rights. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Housing Authority. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Housing Authority's constitutionally deficient notice to 624 Broadway was prejudicial; and (2) 624 Broadway was entitled to a damages hearing. View "624 Broadway, LLC v. Gary Housing Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of six offenses, including unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon in violation of Ind. Code 35-50-2-8, holding that none of Defendant's allegations of error required reversal.On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court erred in giving Preliminary Instruction 18, and that the error was fundamental. The court of appeals agreed and reversed. The Supreme Court granted transfer and affirmed, holding (1) Defendant invited any error that arose from Preliminary Instruction 18, which precluded relief on direct appeal; (2) the traffic stop leading to Defendant's arrest did not violate the Fourth Amendment; and (3) Defendant waived his last allegation of error. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of one count of felony child molestation, holding that the trial court denied Defendant's requests for a continuance.An impermissible local rule and an improperly issued protective order prevented Defendant's defense attorney from obtaining a copy of the alleged victim's interview. Further, the trial court denied Defendant's requests for a continuance when the state disclosed extensive new evidence the day before trial in order to investigate the new allegations and reconstruct trial strategy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court (1) erred in prohibiting Defendant from obtaining a copy of the interview before trial, but reversal was not required on this basis; and (2) abused its discretion by denying Defendant's continuance request, and the error was prejudicial. View "Ramirez v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the post-conviction court concluding that Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing, holding that Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel.Defendant was convicted of murdering his brother when Defendant was seventeen years old. Defendant sought post-conviction relief alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at sentencing. The post-conviction court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not meet his burden to show that counsel's performance fell objectively below professional norms or that he was prejudiced by any of counsel's alleged errors. View "Conley v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court summarily affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals dismissing in part, affirming in part, and reversing in part the judgment of the trial court in this criminal case but reversed the court of appeals' conclusion that remand for a new sentencing was unnecessary, holding that remand was necessary.Defendant was convicted of several offenses for driving his vehicle while intoxicated with his three young grandchildren in the vehicle. On appeal, Defendant argued that his multiple convictions constituted double jeopardy and that the trial court erred in sentencing. The court of appeals remanded the case in part with instructions. The Supreme Court summarily affirmed with one exception, holding that, given the multiple irregularities in Defendant's sentence, remand for resentencing was appropriate. View "McDonald v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting Defendant's motion to dismiss the charges brought against him and finding that Ind. Code 35-45-4-8 violated the state and federal constitutions, holding that the State alleged an offense and that the statute is constitutional.Defendant captured cell phone video of his girlfriend performing oral sex on him and then sent it to another person. Defendant was charged under section 35-45-4-8, which criminalizes the non-consensual distribution of an "intimate image." Defendant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the statute was unconstitutional on free speech grounds. The trial court granted the motion, finding the statute unconstitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the State properly charged Defendant with violating section 35-45-4-8; and (2) the statute does not violate either the free interchange clause of the Indiana Constitution or the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. View "State v. Katz" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the post-conviction court concluding that Defendant's counsel was not ineffective during his criminal proceedings, holding that counsel provided constitutionally effective assistance.Defendant, who was fifteen years old at the time, was charged as an adult and convicted of murder as an accomplice with a gang enhancement after his friend shot and killed a toddler while firing on a rival during a gang dispute. Defendant sought post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. The post-conviction court denied relief. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate that his counsel was ineffective. View "Bradbury v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court denying Defendant's motion to suppress on the grounds that the affidavit supporting the search warrant failed to specify the deputies' "training and experience" in detecting the odor of raw marijuana, holding that the trial court did not err.Defendant was charged with dealing in marijuana and possession of marijuana. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the search violated his constitutional rights because the affidavit failed to specify the deputies' training and experience in detecting a specific smell. The trial court denied the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding, as an issue of first impression, that trained and experienced law enforcement officers who affirm that they detect the odor of raw marijuana based on their training and experience may establish probable cause without providing further details on their qualifications to recognize this specific odor. View "Bunnell v. State" on Justia Law