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Aye Chihuahua! Dog’s domain remains Indiana, appeals court rules

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Sofie, the black-and-white Chihuahua-rat terrier mix, stays in Indiana, the Court of Appeals affirmed in a canine custody challenge.

Despite finding clear error, the panel rejected an appeal by a former Indiana resident who now lives in North Carolina and sought to use a protective order to claim custody of Sofie in Heather Herren v. Jerry Dishman, 18A04-1304-SC-162.

Jerry Dishman received Sofie from a former girlfriend, the record shows, before he and Heather Herren began an on-again, off-again relationship that included a period of incarceration for Dishman during which Herren cared for the animal.

Herren later moved to North Carolina and Dishman followed, but he soon returned to Muncie with Sofie. Herren claimed Dishman threatened her, and she obtained a protective order after he left that granted her “the care, custody, and control of any animal owned, possessed, kept, or held as a pet by either party."

Herren traveled to Indiana and presented the order to Muncie police, who went to Dishman’s home and retrieved Sofie, who returned to North Carolina with Herren. Dishman sued in small claims court and was granted an order of replevin returning Sofie, which the COA affirmed Tuesday.

On appeal, Herren argued that the court failed to extend full faith and credit to the North Carolina protective order and that it erred in denying her motion to dismiss. Judge Patricia Riley wrote that the court did err and demonstrated a manifest abuse of discretion by refusing to admit the protective order as evidence.

Despite those errors, though, the small claims court got the decision right, Riley wrote.

“Herren does not dispute the small claims court’s finding that Dishman never gave ownership of Sofie to Herren,” Riley wrote in a decision joined by Judges James Kirsch and Margret Robb. “We conclude that the small claims court clearly erred by failing to accord full faith and credit to the out-of-state Protective Order, but because Herren neither owned nor possessed Sofie at the time of the Protective Order’s issuance, Herren is not entitled to custody of the dog.”


 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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