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Appellate judges rule on court warrant officer's claim

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled an Anderson City Court judge didn’t wrongly reassign a police warrant officer from his courtroom because the two didn’t share an employee-employer relationship that would allow for a suit under the Indiana Wage Claim Statute.

A unanimous ruling came Tuesday in Mark McCann v. The City of Anderson, Indiana and The Hon. Donald Phillippe, No. 48A02-1009-PL-1060, involving an Anderson Police Department officer who became a warrant officer for the city court in 1998, about three years after his police service began. Judge Donald Phillippe presided over that court, and Mark McCann’s duties included receiving all court warrants issued, maintaining computer files of each wanted person and all probationers, and issuing reports to his supervisors in the police department. While serving as warrant officer, McCann discovered that a probation officer with similar duties was receiving a paycheck from both the APD and City Court.

In 2005, Judge Phillippe requested that McCann be reassigned based on reports that he was “rude and inappropriate” with defendants and prisoners in the courtroom. He was reassigned to a different police department division, and complaints he lodged were dismissed for having no merit. In December 2006 he filed a claim against the city and judge. Special Judge Mary Willis for the Madison Superior Court granted summary judgment for the city and court, finding that McCann wasn’t an employee who could bring a claim under the state’s wage statute.

That statute specifically states, “Whenever any employer separates any employee from the pay-roll, the unpaid wages or compensation of such employee shall become due and payable at regular pay day for pay period in which separation occurred.”

Analyzing whether that employer-employee relationship existed in this case, the appellate panel looked at factors such as the right to discharge, mode of payment, supplying tools or equipment, belief of the parties about that relationship, control over the means used in the results reached, the length of employment, and establishment of the work boundaries.

Though some factors indicated McCann was an employee, the court ultimately decided he was not. Most importantly, the court analyzed the right of the employer to exercise control over the employee and determined that McCann remained under the supervision and control of the Anderson Police Department.

“Thus, overall, four of the seven factors, including the most important ‘Control over the Means Used’ indicate that McCann was not an employee of the City Court,” Judge Melissa May wrote. “Because the City Court was not McCann’s employer, he cannot be due any ‘unpaid wages’ from the City Court. Therefore, he cannot assert a claim against the City Court under the Indiana Wage Statute. Accordingly, we affirm.”

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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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