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Justices order mandate writ against court

February 25, 2009

The Indiana Supreme Court has granted a relator's verified petition for writ of mandamus and prohibition against a Grant Superior judge and the clerk.

In the order dated Feb. 23 and posted today, State of Indiana ex rel. John L. Smith, Relator v. The Grant Superior Court No. 2, et al., No. 27S00-0812-OR-765,
Smith sought relief, alleging Grant Superior Judge Randall L. Johnson heard certain motions but failed to rule within the 30-day time limit in Ind. Trial Rule 53.1(A). Smith also alleged he filed a praecipe for withdrawal and clerk J. Mark Florence failed in his duty to determine a delay in ruling and withdraw the case from Judge Johnson.

Grant Superior Court No. 2 heard certain motions June 10, 2008, but failed to rule on those motions within 30 days, according to the order. On Aug. 15, the trial court suspended operations in the Grant County Courthouse because of health concerns related to mold and other conditions of the courthouse, but the court, Judge Johnson and Florence don't argue the emergency conditions or the Administrative Rule 17 Order issued by the Supreme Court in September relieves the trial court of its obligation to rule in a timely manner.

The high court unanimously directed Judge Johnson to vacate any orders issued after Smith's filing of praecipe Oct. 21, 2008, and to cease exercising jurisdiction over the case except for administrative duties to effectuate the writ. Florence is directed to give written notice to Judge Johnson and the Supreme Court that submission of the cause has been withdrawn in accordance to T.R. 53.1(E)(2). Judge Johnson also has to file a written report once an order appointing a special judge has been issued.

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