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Supreme Court takes public intoxication case

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The Indiana Supreme Court will rule on whether a woman’s conviction of Class B misdemeanor public intoxication should be reversed because she wasn’t in a public place within the meaning of Indiana Code at the time police stopped her car. This issue divided the Indiana Court of Appeals, which reversed Brenda Moore’s conviction.

The justices accepted the case, Brenda Moore v. State of Indiana, No. 49S04-1101-CR-24. The majority on the Court of Appeals used Miles v. State, 247 Ind. 423, 425 216 N.E.2d 847, 849 (1966) to support their decision. Moore’s friend was driving Moore’s car because he needed to go somewhere and Moore was too drunk to drive. He was driving with Moore in the front seat. Police pulled over the car for a non-working license plate light. The friend didn’t have a valid license and Moore admitted she couldn’t drive because she was drunk.

The majority found the facts of the instant case to be different from Miles, in which a truck diver was slumped over his steering wheel in his running tractor-trailer cab parked on the side of a highway. That driver was considered to be drunk in public for purposes of the statute.

Judge Margret Robb also wrote that the purpose of the statute is to prevent intoxicated people from threatening the safety of others and under the circumstances of this case, Moore wasn’t intoxicated in a public place within the meaning of Indiana Code Section 7.1-5-1-3. Judge Nancy Vaidik dissented, believing it’s up to legislature to address this issue.

The justices denied transfer to 16 cases for the week ending Jan. 14, including Lawane Chaney, et al. v. Clarian Health Partners, Inc., No. 49A05-0905-CV-263. In that not-for-publication decision, Ronald Weldy, the former counsel for Lawane Chaney, appealed the sanctions imposed against him under Indiana Trial Rule 37 as purported class counsel. The Court of Appeals affirmed there was a legal basis for the sanction imposed.

According to the docket, Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Steven David would also consider a petition for damages, including attorney fees, pursuant to Appellate Rule 66(E).

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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