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Opinion explains use of supplemental evidence

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In affirming a trial court's decision to uphold a board of zoning appeals' denial of a petition for a variance, the Indiana Court of Appeals also addressed the trial court's admission of supplemental evidence pursuant to Indiana Code Section 36-7-4-1009.

In Edward Rose of Indiana, LLC v. Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals, Division II, Indianapolis-Marion County, Ind., No. 49A02-0809-CV-812, the company Edward Rose of Indiana, which owns an apartment complex in Indianapolis, appealed the denial of its petition for a variance regarding a sign located near Interstate 65. Edward Rose received notice in 2007 the sign was in violation of the consolidated city and county zoning ordinance. After the denial of its petition, Edward Rose filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the trial court, at which the court received supplemental evidence in the form of testimony from a professional land use planner and three employees of the apartment complex. The trial court affirmed the denial of the petition for variance.

Before addressing the appeal, the Court of Appeals examined the trial court's use of supplemental evidence. The statute in question states the trial court's review of a petition for writ of certiorari is limited to determining the legality of the BZA's decision, but also states the court may take evidence to supplement the evidence and facts disclosed by the return of the writ of certiorari. It also states the review by the trial court may not be de novo.

During the certiorari proceeding, Edward Rose used a great deal of supplemental evidence to try to support its contention from the BZA proceeding that a "significant" amount of leases were attributable to the sign and removal of it will result in practical difficulties.

It appears in this case the trial court didn't make its decision using the evidence presented during the BZA proceeding, but instead used the supplemental evidence to make its decision, wrote Judge Margret Robb. The trial court should have concluded that its admission of the company's supplemental evidence was inconsistent with certiorari review under I.C. Section 36-7-4-1009.

The Court of Appeals did provide examples of when supplemental evidence may be admitted without running afoul of the trial de novo prohibition, including when new evidence is discovered after the BZA's proceedings and when the record presented to the trial court doesn't contain all the evidence actually presented to the BZA.

Edward Rose failed to prove as a matter of law that removal of the sign will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property, the appellate court ruled. Because the evidence can't establish a more precise estimate of the increase in the advertising budget of the company because of the removal of the sign, it failed to show it will suffer significant economic injury as a matter of law. The injury is self-created because the company knew for more than 15 years its sign was in violation of the ordinance, wrote the judge. In addition, there are feasible alternatives for the company to attract business, such as advertising on a nearby billboard.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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