ILNews

COA dismisses attorney's appeal

Jennifer Nelson
December 11, 2009
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The Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed an attorney's interlocutory appeal of the order he pay attorney's fees as a discovery sanction because the attorney didn't timely file his appeal.

In Warren Johnson v. The Estate of Timothy P. Brazill, Brian J. Zaiger; Judy Hester; and David A. Anderson and Anderson & Associates, No. 29A02-0902-CV-126, attorney David Anderson represented Warren Johnson in his claim against the estate of deceased attorney Timothy P. Brazill. Johnson claimed Brazill hadn't repaid a loan to him, but it was later discovered Johnson owed Brazill money based on a promissory note.

Anderson tried to introduce certain e-mails sent between Brazill and Johnson that he got from one of Brazill's former law partners, but the trial court denied entering them as evidence. Anderson then tried getting the e-mails through a subpoena from Judy Hester, who was the last member of the Smyth Brazill Hester law firm before it split.

Hester then filed a motion to intervene in the action and sought attorney's fees for what she said were Anderson's continued discovery abuses. On Sept. 22, 2008, the trial court granted Hester's motion and ordered Johnson and Anderson to pay her nearly $2,500 in fees. The court also ordered the estate to submit an attorney fees affidavit within 10 days of the order. On Oct. 20, 2008, the trial court denied Anderson's motion to reconsider and ordered him to pay nearly $4,500 in attorney's fees to the estate. On Nov. 7, 2008, the trial court vacated its finding against Johnson, but upheld the ruling against Anderson. The court reaffirmed its findings against Johnson again in a Dec. 30, 2008, clarification.

Anderson filed a notice of appeal Jan. 22, 2009.

The parties didn't raise the timeliness of Anderson's appeal as an issue, but the Court of Appeals found Anderson's Jan. 22 appeal was untimely and dismissed the case. Anderson appealed from the Dec. 30 order, but he should have filed his appeal within 30 days of the Sept. 22 order if he wanted to challenge the award of fees to Hester, ruled the appellate court. With regards to the estate, Anderson should have filed his appeal within 30 days of the Oct. 20 order that dictated the amount of fees to go to the estate.

Instead, Anderson filed motions to reconsider, which the trial court denied, and asked the trial court to clarify its order, which it did Dec. 30. Even though the orders were modified with regards to Johnson and another attorney, the order that Anderson pay attorney's fees to Hester and the estate was constant and should have been appealed prior to Jan. 22, 2009.

"Otherwise, a party ordered to pay money could repeatedly move the court to reconsider or clarify its original order, and if the trial court then modified that order in a way that did not affect the moving party's obligations under the original order, that party could then appeal from the trial court's order denying the motion to reconsider," wrote Judge Paul Mathias. "This could allow a party to potentially delay compliance with the trial court's order, which is precisely what Trial Rule 53.4 is designed to prevent."

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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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