ILNews

Judge rules Fishers can annex Geist

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Indiana caselaw is well settled on jurisdiction relating to annexations and incorporations, and a Hamilton Superior judge has determined Fishers should be allowed to proceed with annexing thousands of acres in Geist.

Judge Steven Nation ruled today on a high-publicity case involving the proposed annexation by Fishers of 2,200 homes in unincorporated Geist area. At issue was whether the county had jurisdiction over the annexation because of the timeline of petitions filed.

In mid-September Fishers had introduced an ordinance to start annexing the land, but four days later Geist filed an incorporation petition of its own with the county to form its own towns of East and West Geist.

Attorneys had asked the judge to stop Fishers from annexing homes and allow the Hamilton County Commissioners to rule, with both sides arguing they'd taken the "first step" in its own proceedings. The city contended the ordinance introduction sufficed, while interveners argued that an ordinance or fiscal plan adoption is needed.

Relying on Indiana Supreme Court decisions going back more than a century in Taylor v. City of Ft. Wayne, 47 Ind. 274, 282 (1874), Judge Nation cited that jurisdictional disputes are well-settled and become exclusive when proceedings are "first instituted."

"Fishers 'first instituted,' 'first undertook,' or otherwise took the 'first step' towards its annexation of the disputed area when its Town Council introduced and conducted a first reading ..." Judge Nation wrote, noting the courts have said the rule was intended to "avoid the conflict and confusion which would result from separate jurisdictional authorities proceeding at the same time."

The judge also explored similar issues and rulings from Texas and Missouri's appellate courts, holding that those jurisdictions have been consistent with Indiana's prior jurisdiction rule in the Taylor case.

Bryan Babb with Bose McKinney & Evans, one of the attorneys representing Fishers, said there was never any doubt and this is simply a 21st Century update of previous decisions on jurisdictional rule in competing annexations and incorporations.

"If you're asking a trial judge to rewrite law, you need to present what the other side of jurisdictional coin is," Babb said. "They weren't able to do that, and the judge determined that the phrase 'first instituted' here meant a simple meeting with an ordinance introduction."

The ruling means that Fishers can proceed with its annexation proceedings as soon as next week, Babb said.

 
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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