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Appeals court affirms tax sale notice statute unconstitutional

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The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed a trial court ruling denying a petition for a tax deed after a Bartholomew County tax sale, finding that the court was correct in ruling that the state’s statutory notice violated the 14th Amendment guarantee of due process.

In M & M Investment Group, LLC v. Ahlemeyer Farms, Inc. and Monroe Bank, 03A04-1112-CC-639, Bartholomew Circuit Judge Stephen R. Heimann denied M&M’s petition for a tax deed after it purchased a property in Columbus at a tax sale for $95,000. Monroe Bank had been the mortgagee, lending Ahlemeyer Farms a total of $750,000 in 2006 and 2007.

The Bartholomew County auditor provided Ahlemeyer Farms notice of tax sale but didn’t provide notice to Monroe Bank before the sale took place.

Indiana Code 6-1.1-24-3(b) says auditors shall mail notice to any mortgagee who annually requests, but states, “However, the failure of the county auditor to mail this notice or its nondelivery does not affect the validity of the judgment and order.”

Even though Monroe Bank had not requested notice of tax sale as the statute describes, the appeals court said it had been denied due process. The court cited Mennonite Board of Missions v. Adams, 462 U.S. 791 (1983), in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an earlier version of Indiana pre-tax-sale notice law.

“When a mortgagee has a publicly recorded mortgage, as in the present case, we conclude, under the holdings of both Mennonite and [Jones v. Flowers, 547 U.S. 220 (2006)], that due process requires that the government must supplement notice by publication with pre-tax sale notice mailed to the mortgagee’s last known available address or by personal service, regardless of whether the mortgagee has requested such notice,” Judge James Kirsch wrote in a unanimous opinion.

“We therefore conclude that the Indiana pre-tax sale notice statute violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it does not require the government to provide sufficient notice prior to the tax sale either by mail or by personal service to mortgagees who have publicly recorded mortgages, even if such notice is not requested by the mortgagees, and because it provides that, even if the government fails to mail the requested notice or the notice is undeliverable for some reason, the validity of the tax sale will not be affected,” Kirsch wrote.


 

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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