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COA: findings don't support attorney fees

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The Indiana Court of Appeals remanded a case today involving attorney fees - the appellate court questioned whether the Indiana High School Athletic Association was trying to dissuade appeals by athletes - because the findings of the case currently don't support the judgment.

In Indiana High School Athletic Association Inc. v. Gregory S. Schafer and Shane Schafer, No. 37A03-0811-CV-560, the appellate court considered the award of attorney fees to the Schafers from a 1991 case in which Shane Schafer appealed the IHSAA's decision he was ineligible to play basketball during the 1991-1992 school year. Schafer became ill during his junior year in 1990 and withdrew from school shortly after the end of the regular basketball season in 1991. His high school allowed him to repeat his entire junior year in the fall 1991. He asked the IHSAA to not count the 1990-1991 school year against him, which the organization denied. The trial court eventually granted Schafer's motion for declaratory judgment on the constitutionality of the rules IHSAA applied to him and enjoined the IHSAA from ruling him ineligible or punishing his high school. The trial court concluded the IHSAA rules were overly broad, arbitrary, and capricious.

The trial court granted Shafer's request for attorney fees on the grounds that during the declaratory judgment period the IHSAA continued to litigate a defense that was frivolous, unreasonable, and capricious.

The appellate court determined that the record before it didn't allow it to uphold Shafer's award of attorney fees because the trial court's findings of fact don't support such a conclusion, wrote Judge Melissa May. The judges declined to hold the litigation as necessarily frivolous or unreasonable just because an administrative rule that is the subject of the litigation is eventually determined to be arbitrary, capricious, or unconstitutional, she wrote.

"We are unable to affirm the award of attorney fees because the trial court's findings do not support its judgment. But our result on that narrow ground must not be interpreted to condone IHSAA's actions ..." the judge continued.

The appellate court has disapproved of similar litigation tactics employed in the past by the IHSAA, with the judge citing Indiana High School Athletic Association v. Vasario, 726 N.E.2d 325, 335 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), and now-Chief Judge John Baker's dissent from that case.

"The case before us raises the same concerns that the IHSAA is trying 'to send a message to parents and student athletes in Indiana about the great risk and expense involved in challenging a ruling, and thus discourage them from appealing a denial of eligibility,'" Judge May wrote regarding the instant case.

The Court of Appeals remanded so the trial court could further consider and explain its judgment with regard to its conclusion on the attorney fee issue.

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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