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Supreme Court grants 3 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted three transfers Thursday to cases involving what manner an appellate court could reverse a revocation of probation, how to calculate guardian ad litem fees, and whether there is a rebuttable presumption that children ages 7 through 14 can't be found contributorily negligent.

At issue in Cornelius Cooper v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-0709-CR-780, is whether Cornelius Cooper's probation should have been revoked and by what manner the appellate court was authorized to reverse a revocation. A majority believed Cooper was denied due process as a fundamental error, allowing the appellate court to review his untimely appeal of the revocation order. Judge Nancy Vaidik, in her concurring result in a separate opinion, believed Cooper's appeal should have been reviewed under Indiana Post-Conviction Rule 2. Judge Vaidik also noted in her opinion the disagreement in the Court of Appeals on whether a probation revocation order is appealable under Post-Conviction Rule 2, but she believed that right existed.

In the issue of first impression in the case In re: The paternity of N.L.P., No. 45A03-0805-JV-226, the appellate court ruled on guardian ad litem fees and ruled a GAL must differentiate between attorney and non-legal work when billing in a paternity case. The trial court in the case reduced court-appointed GAL Jill Swope's fees from $34,800 to $20,000 but didn't explain why it chose to reduce the fees to $20,000. The Court of Appeals remanded for further analysis of the fees based on the appellate opinion, which instructed trial courts to consider guidelines set out in Indiana Professional Conduct Rule 1.5 when deciding how to compensate for fees and expenses.

In Clay City Consolidated School Corp. v. Ronna Timberman and John Pipes II, No. 11A04-0802-CV-96, the Court of Appeals found a trial court committed reversible error in a suit against a school for the death of a student when it instructed a jury that Indiana law has a rebuttable presumption that children ages 7 through 14 can't be found contributorily negligent. Timberman and Pipes sued the school corporation after their 13-year-old son died during a basketball practice. He had fainted two days earlier during practice but hadn't seen a doctor before his next practice. His death was attributed to ventricular fibrillation. His parents sued under Indiana's Child Wrongful Death Statute and won $300,000 following an order on remittitur from the court reducing the damages.

Noting that the trial court "reopened the proverbial can of worms" with this issue, the appellate court examined Indiana caselaw to conclude that state law doesn't conclusively contain a presumption either in favor or against 7- to 14-year-olds with respect to whether they can be found liable for negligent acts. The trial court misstated Indiana law when it informed the jury that state law contains a rebuttable presumption that children between the ages of 7 and 14 can't be found contributorily negligent. The Court of Appeals remanded for a new trial.

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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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