Court of Appeals decides two Tippecanoe County cases

On June 23, 2015, the Indiana Court of Appeals decided two cases out of Tippecanoe County: Vazquez v. State of Indiana and In re: The Estate of Robert F. Darter.

The first, Vazquez, was a criminal case involving an individual with felony drug convictions serving a 45 year sentence. The General Assembly recently amended the sentence modification statute and Mr. Vazquez was seeking a modification under the new statute. The Court of Appeals determined that the amendment of the sentence modification statute applied to him but decided that he was not entitled to modification of the sentence. They found that Mr. Vazquez had not supported his claims that the trial court judge was biased against him and without jurisdiction to consider his petition. Additionally, they found that, even though the sentence modification statute applied to him, he was still barred from filing this particular petition since this petition was filed within a year of his most recent petition.

The second, Darter, was a probate matter involving a challenge by the son of an individual who had died without a will. A creditor of the decedent (the long term care facility where he died) petitioned to have an estate opened and someone connected to the creditor appointed as personal representative. Several of the notices to the son concerning the proceedings in the estate were returned as undeliverable. But, it appears that there was no contention about the fact that the son had received a notice of administration and appointment of personal representative as well as a notice concerning the sale of certain real estate belonging to the estate. Because the son had received these notices, the Court of Appeals did not regard the failures with respect to the other notices as problematic. The son also challenged the sale price received for the real estate. Initial documentation suggested that the market value for the real estate was about $120,000. The real estate was subsequently sold for $50,000. However, the $50,000 sale price was approved by the trial court judge and evidence had been submitted supporting the change in value. Based on that, the Court of Appeals determined that the trial court had acted within its discretion in approving the sale.