Trial courts don’t have the authority to issue orders against other courts and judges mandating that they stop certain practices, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.
In Toshiano Ishii, Matthew Stone, Greg Hardin, Lisa Hardin, et al. v. The Hon. William E. Young, Judge, No. 49A02-1103-PL-316, the appellate court affirmed a motion to dismiss that Special Judge Matthew Hanson from Morgan County granted in favor of Marion Superior Judge William Young.
Hanson had been appointed to hear the case involving six individuals who alleged they were on the receiving end of Young’s improper traffic court practices, which included threatening additional fines on them if they exercised their right to a trial in his court. Those litigants sued Young, but only sought relief for future cases and not their specific situations. They requested that Hanson prohibit Young from improperly fining people. They also asked the judge to find that Young cannot bar the general public from attending court sessions and defendants with health problems should be allowed to return to court if they left and be able to carry snacks, water and medication if needed. Hanson found he didn’t have jurisdiction to issue a mandate or injunction against Young because that authority belonged solely to the Indiana Supreme Court.
The appellate court rejected the arguments that the Indiana Constitution and state appellate and original action rules allow for trial judges to issue a writ of mandamus or prohibition against another trial court judge relating to matters that aren’t connected to the trial court’s jurisdiction. The appellate panel cited both Indiana Constitution Article 7, Section 4 and Indiana Appellate Rule 4(B)(3) that gives the justices exclusive jurisdiction.
Since the three-judge panel affirmed Hanson’s order on grounds relating to jurisdiction, the appellate judges didn’t address the parties’ arguments relating to standing and mootness. The traffic court litigants who sued Young in this case were not involved in the disciplinary action that was filed against Young last year, but it involved the same conduct. The Supreme Court in February suspended Young for 30 days without pay, and the trial judge has since returned to the bench.