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Supreme Court grants 5 transfers

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Indiana's top jurists granted transfer Wednesday in five cases and will consider issues involving physicians who leave foreign objects in a patient's body, parental termination hearings conducted without the parent, timely court-filing deadlines, and the sentencing options courts have after probation violations.

In Russell Prewitt v. State of Indiana, No. 10A04-0610-CR-589, the Court of Appeals in April reversed a Clark County case in which the judge revised a sentence after the defendant violated his probation. The appellate judges held that the lower court only had the authority to use one of three statutory options, not two as it did in ordering him to serve two years of a previously suspended sentence and then to enter a state hospital on his release. The sentencing options a trial court has on probation violations now becomes a key issue in the latest appeal for justices to consider.

A second transfer came in Chi Yun Ho, M.D. v. Loretta M. Frye and Thomas Hoffman, Personal Representative of the Estate of Charles Frye, No. 67A01-0603-CV-122, which is a medical malpractice case from Putnam Circuit Court. During a 2000 procedure on Frye, Dr. Ho and the surgical nurse and technician reported he had retrieved the number of sponges used during the surgery. But in 2001, it was discovered a sponge had been left in her abdomen and she needed additional surgeries to remove it, an abscess, and to heal the wound. She eventually sued and ultimately accused the doctor of negligence for failing to remove the sponge; the trial court denied a motion for summary judgment. But on appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial in that Frye was entitled to partial summary judgment because the doctor didn't carry his burden of proof.

Justices will also consider Erica Lockett v. Marion County Department of Child Services and Child Advocates, Inc., No. 49A02-0611-JV-995, which involves an involuntary parental termination hearing conducted in the absence of a mother. She claimed that violated her due process rights, and both the trial court and appellate judges found this didn't violate her rights.

The high court also granted transfer in State of Indiana v. Universal Outdoor, Inc., No. 49A05-0609-CV-536, involving a court-filing deadline for exceptions to appraisers' reports. The appeals court held in April that exceptions are timely if filed within 20 days of the filing of the appraisers' report but no later than 20 days after the county clerk sends notice of the report to the parties.

A fifth transfer came in Sophia Willis v. State of Indiana, No. 49A02-06110-CR-982, which involved a Court of Appeals decision from May delving into the legal distinctions between corporal punishment and child battery. That appeal affirmed a Marion Superior Court judgment finding sufficient evidence to convict a mother for spanking her son with a belt or extension cord. (See separate Indiana Lawyer Daily story.)

The justices also granted transfer this morning in a sixth case but remanded it without an opinion to the Court of Appeals. That case, Melonee Cooper v. State, No. 26A05-0701-JV-55, involves parental rights and the timely notice of appeal. The appellate court had dismissed it in April, but the justices ruled they should not have done so and should consider issuing an order clarifying all briefing-related deadlines.
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