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Death penalty, election arguments Thursday

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The Indiana Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday in a death penalty case, a dispute whether the elected mayor of Terre Haute was eligible to run for office, and whether an order for a mother's voluntary termination of parental rights should have been set aside.

At 9 a.m., the justices will hear Daniel Ray Wilkes v. State of Indiana, No. 10S00-0808-DP-453. Daniel Ray Wilkes was convicted in Clark County for the murders of an Evansville woman and her two children. The jury failed to reach a unanimous decision as to Wilkes' sentence, so Vanderburgh Circuit Judge Carl Heldt issued a death sentence.

This was the first time since Indiana law changed in 2002 that a judge had to determine the sentence in a capital murder case after a jury deadlocked. The state law amendment requires judges to follow jury sentencing recommendations in capital cases. In the direct appeal, Wilkes argued various errors occurred during his trial and sentencing.

Arguments in Kevin D. Burke v. Duke Bennett, No. 84S01-0904-CV-148, begin at 10:05 a.m. Duke Bennett was elected mayor of Terre Haute in 2007, but his opponent, Kevin Burke, contested the election because he claimed Bennett was ineligible to run for office since he worked for a nonprofit that received federal funds. Bennett was declared the winner, but the Indiana Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision reversed and held that Bennett is disqualified, the mayor's office is vacant, and a special election is required.

The high court will also hear arguments at 10:55 a.m. in a case involving the denial of a mother's motion to set aside an order for voluntary termination of her parental rights. In the case In Re: Termination of parent-child relationship of M.B. and S.B., No. 34S02-0805-JV-437, the Howard Circuit Court denied the mother's Trial 60(B) motion to set aside the order voluntarily ending her parental rights. The Court of Appeals affirmed in the matter of first impression, ruling the addendum to her consent providing for post-adoption visitation was unenforceable because a partial termination of parental rights doesn't exist under Indiana law and severing the addendum didn't frustrate the basic purpose of the remainder of the agreement.

All arguments will be webcast live from the Supreme Court courtroom.

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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