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High court grants 5 transfers

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The Indiana Supreme Court granted five transfers late on July 2, including cases on possession of cocaine in a family housing complex and "no fault" attendance policies in workplaces.

In Shewanda B. Beattie v. State of Indiana, No. 82A01-0805-CR-247, Shewanda Beattie's conviction of possession of cocaine in a family housing complex was reversed by the Indiana Court of Appeals because the jury acquitted her of the lesser-included offense of possession of cocaine. The unanimous panel didn't reverse her conviction due to insufficient evidence, but because the inconsistency in the jury's verdict left them unable to determine what evidence the jury believed. The judges relied on Owsley v. State, 769 N.E.2d 181 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002), to reverse Beattie's conviction and remand for a new trial on the charge of possession of cocaine in a family housing complex.

In Gary Dennis Jackson v. State of Indiana, No. 39A01-0711-CR-528, the Court of Appeals reversed Gary Jackson's conviction of battery resulting in serious bodily injury, ruling the trial court abused its discretion by granting a mistrial after discovering five jurors read a newspaper article about jury selection for Jackson's second trial. The trial court didn't explain why it granted the mistrial instead of admonishing the jury. The discharge of the jury at his second trial operated as an acquittal and the subsequent trial was a violation of his right to be free from double jeopardy. Judge Cale Bradford dissented, believing the trial court was within its discretion to grant the mistrial and permit a retrial without violating Jackson's double jeopardy protections.

In Gloria Murray, et al. v. City of Lawrenceburg, No. 15A04-0803-CV-122, the majority affirmed the trial court denial of the city's motion for judgment on the pleadings because the appellate court couldn't say Gloria Murray and others were required to bring a claim for inverse condemnation because the ownership of the disputed property hasn't been determined. The majority also reversed the denial of Murray's demand for a jury trial. The case was remanded to resolve the timeliness of her claims, sever the timely filed distinct legal claims, and grant the demand for a jury trial as to those claims. Chief Judge John Baker dissented, believing the result reached by the majority will effectively preclude most, if not all, inverse condemnation actions in the future.

The high court also granted transfer to two cases involving the issue of "no-fault" attendance policies, where the Court of Appeals had split in their decisions regarding the reasonableness of such policies: Lisa Beckingham v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and Cenveo Corp., No. 93A02-0808-EX-771, and John Giovanoni II v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development and Clarian Health Partners, Inc., No. 93A02-0806-EX-545. Both Lisa Beckingham and John Giovanoni were fired as a result of multiple excused absences.

In Beckingham's appeal, the Court of Appeals held the reasoning set forth in Jeffboat Inc. v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Division, 464 N.E.2d 377 (Ind. Ct. App. 1984), and Beene v. Review Board of the Indiana Dept. of Employment and Training Services, 528 N.E.2d 842 (Ind. Ct. App. 1988), is the better rationale for determining the reasonableness of an employer's attendance policy. The majority in Beckingham's appeal affirmed she was discharged for just cause under Indiana Code Section 22-4-15-1(d)(2). Judge Edward Najam dissented, writing he would have followed the reasoning of the majority in Giovanoni, which ruled that termination for unsatisfactory attendance must be analyzed solely under section (d)(3). In Giovanoni, the majority ruled Love v. Heritage House Convalescent Center, 463 N.E.2d 478, 482, (Ind. Ct. App. 1983) provided a sounder model for determining eligibility for unemployment benefits when the employee is fired for attendance issues.

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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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