May 21, 2004

Indiana Decisions - One Supreme Court and Three Court of Appeals Opinions Posted Today

Benny Saylor v. State of Indiana (5/20/04 IndSCt) [Criminal Law & Procedure]
Boehm, Justice

In 1992, Benny Saylor was sentenced to death despite a unanimous jury recommendation to the contrary. In 2002, Indiana law was changed in an important respect by requiring a unanimous jury recommendation of death before the death penalty can be imposed. Appellate courts are to review and revise sentences that are inappropriate. We conclude that it is not appropriate to execute a person who was convicted and sentenced through a procedure that has now been substantially revised so the same trial today would no longer render the defendant eligible for the death penalty. At the time of Saylorís crime, life without parole could not be imposed under Indiana law. Accordingly, we revise Saylorís sentence to a term of one hundred years. * * *
Dickson, Sullivan, and Rucker, JJ., concur.
Shepard, C.J., dissents with opinion.
See also this AP story that begins: "The Indiana Supreme Court ruled today that because of a change in state law, nobody sentenced to death without a jury recommendation can be executed."Robert Dean Waibel v. State of Indiana (5/21/04 IndCtApp) [Criminal Law & Procedure]
Brook, Senior Judge - Affirmed

Jedediah Haltom v. State of Indiana (5/21/04 IndCtApp) [Criminal Law & Procedure]
Kirsch, Chief Judge
Jedediah Haltom appeals the trial courtís order of restitution for the benefit of Linda Meyer. Haltom raises two issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as follows: whether the trial court abused its discretion in ordering Haltom to pay restitution to Meyer for her medical and hospital expenses and lost earnings after she signed a release of all claims and received a settlement from his insurance company in her civil action. We reverse. * * *

While we commend the trial court for its thorough restitution order, which greatly facilitated our review on appeal, we find that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering Haltom to pay restitution to Meyer for her medical and hospital expenses and lost earnings because she had already recovered for these losses through the settlement with Nationwide. The plain language of IC 35-50-5-3(e) indicates that while civil settlements may be brought subsequent to the imposition of a restitution order, these actions must be for damages not covered or contemplated by the restitution order. * * * Indiana has long allowed contracting parties to enter into any agreement they desire so long as it is not illegal or against public policy. Here, Meyerís settlement with Nationwide was more than three times her actual losses and damages totaling $27,956.88. Therefore, when Meyer executed the Release and accepted the settlement, she waived her right to seek restitution because she no longer had any actual losses or damages. See id. The $100,000 settlement more than covered her medical and hospital expenses and her lost wages.

With all of the above in mind, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering Haltom to pay restitution to Meyer as a condition of his probation. Accordingly, we reverse the trial courtís order for restitution in this matter. See IC 35-50-5-3. * * *
NAJAM, J., and RILEY, J., concur.

Jack Perry v. William Driehorst, M.D., et al. (5/21/04 IndCtApp) [Medical Malpractice]
Ratliff, Senior Judge
The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court correctly granted Dr. Driehorst and Southsideís motion for summary judgment. * * *

The trial court correctly granted Dr. Driehorst and Southsideís motion for summary judgment. After Dr. Driehorst and Southside designated the medical review panelís unanimous decision that Dr. Driehorst had not violated the standard of care, Perry was required to present expert medical testimony on the appropriate standard of care, and how Dr. Driehorstís conduct fell below that standard. Perryís designated evidence in response to the motion for summary judgment did not meet that requirement. Affirmed.
KIRSCH, C.J., and FRIEDLANDER, J., concur.

Posted by Marcia Oddi at May 21, 2004 01:56 PM