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Court dismisses photograph suit

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A man's pro se prisoner suit against the public information officer of a correctional facility and a reporter that he claimed are responsible for his shooting injury was dismissed Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge. The claims weren't actionable under the prisoner's 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 complaint.

In Shandonn M. Shepherd v. Trevor Wendzoka and Jeff Burton, No. 3:08-cv-605, Shandonn Shepherd filed his suit against Trevor Wendzoka, as PIO of the Elkhart County Correctional Facility, and Jeff Burton, a reporter for the Elkhart Truth newspaper, after he was shot in a drive-by shooting in June following his release from the facility.

Several months earlier, a photograph of Shepherd was released to the media by Wendzoka following a murder in which Tyrus Coleman was sought for questioning. Shepherd claimed the drive-by shooting was in retaliation for his being linked to a murder by the newspaper using his photograph instead of a picture of Coleman.

Shepherd claimed his mother told Burton he had the wrong photograph, but Burton ignored her and published an article with his picture. Shepherd alleged Wendzoka libeled his character and exposed him to risk of injury by releasing his photograph to the media.

However, in 2005, Shepherd had given authorities Coleman's name when he was arrested in an unrelated incident. He was later charged with false informing once police discovered Shepherd's true identity; the photo was never updated with the correct information.

In his suit, Shepherd wanted $750,000 for his medical bills and as a result of his reputation being ruined because of the published photo.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen of Indiana's Northern District dismissed the complaint because claims for slander and defamation aren't actionable under Section 1983, so Shepherd doesn't have a claim against Wendzoka. He also failed to state a claim against Burton because Burton is a newspaper reporter and wasn't acting under color of state law when he printed Shepherd's photograph.

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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