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COA: trial courts can limit administrative review

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State law allows a trial court to decline to hold a jury trial and limit its review of a local municipality’s administrative decision, according to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

A decision Friday in Utility Center, Inc., d/b/a Aqua Indiana, Inc. v. City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, No. 90A04-1101-PL-15, affirms the ruling by a special judge serving in Wells Circuit Court. Specifically, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment relating to a public utility’s property condemnation that was before the Fort Wayne Board of Public Works. The city board determined the amount due by Aqua Indiana, and the company appealed that administrative decision in court. The trial court determined it would review the board’s decision under the abuse of discretion standard and the company wasn’t entitled to a jury trial.

The court of appeals looked at statute and state and federal caselaw to determine judicial review is limited to the facts in the agency record. The judges also concluded when a municipality actively seeks to avoid the appearance of impropriety when there is no evidence of impropriety, due process rights are not violated if a municipality’s employees serve as advocates and different employees of the same municipality serve as decision-makers in administrative proceedings.

“Neither Indiana Code chapter 32-24-2, nor the due process clauses under the United States Constitution or the Indiana Constitution, require a trial court reviewing an administrative determination of just compensation to conduct an evidentiary hearing or jury trial,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote.

 

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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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