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COA affirms trial court dismissal of judicial review but differs on reasoning

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An Allen Superior judge’s determination that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear a zoning issue, thus requiring dismissal, was erroneous, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. But the judges affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of the case because of a lack of supporting materials and a late request for a filing deadline extension.

Michael Howard sought judicial review of the Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals decision to grant a use variance allowing property owned by Alvin Schmucker to be used for the operation of a tire business. The men’s properties were near each other.

Howard asked the zoning board to produce a certified record of all materials relevant to its decision, and he had until Sept. 17, 2012, to file the record or seek an extension of the filing deadline. He did neither as of the deadline date, so Schmucker asked for Howard’s request for judicial review to be dismissed. Howard later filed an amended petition asking for the extension. In December, Judge Stanley Levine dismissed Howard’s petition with prejudice, holding the trial court lacked jurisdiction based on his failure to timely file the board record or timely request an extension of the filing deadline.

“Because the timing of filing the board record does not implicate matters of jurisdiction, we conclude that the trial court’s determination was clearly erroneous. But, because we interpret Indiana Code section 36-7-4-1613 to require dismissal where no materials supporting judicial review of the petitioner’s claim are timely filed and an extension of the filing deadline is not timely requested, we affirm the trial court’s judgment,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in Michael Howard v. Allen County Board of Zoning, Appeals and Alvin Schmucker, 02A04-1301-PL-27.

The judges rejected Howard’s suggestion that under the COA’s April decision in  Lebamoff Enterprises Inc. v. Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, the trial court’s discretion with regard to untimely filings allows the court to accept a belated record even where an official extension hasn’t been granted. They also rejected his claim under Trial Rule 15 that the relation back doctrine forgives the tardiness of Howard’s second belated extension request. Plus, after a filing deadline has passed, a party is not allowed to amend a petition to cure procedural defects.

 

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  1. He TIL team,please zap this comment too since it was merely marking a scammer and not reflecting on the story. Thanks, happy Monday, keep up the fine work.

  2. You just need my social security number sent to your Gmail account to process then loan, right? Beware scammers indeed.

  3. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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