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Court rules on agency record appeals

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In two separate opinions, the Indiana Court of Appeals tackled the issue of timely and complete filing of an agency record.

In William B. Reedus v. Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development, No. 49A02-0808-CV-760, the issue is whether William Reedus' appeal of an order of the Indiana State Employees' Appeals Commission should have contained certain documents. He only attached uncertified copies of the Department of Workforce Development's dismissal letter, the administrative law judge's non-final order with findings and conclusions, the judge's final order, and the DWD's witness and exhibit list for the SEAC hearing. His petition for judicial review of agency action lacked the transcripts or exhibits from the hearing. The trial court dismissed his appeal.

In Indiana Family and Social Services Administration v. Alice V. Meyer, et al., No. 69A01-0807-CV-358, the issue is whether Alice Meyer's trust failed to timely file the agency record after Meyer's Medicaid benefits were denied. The trial court denied the Family and Social Service Agency's motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction for failing to timely file the agency record. The trial court also corrected the administrative law judge's mathematical error in calculating the value of the reminder of interest of a farm.

In both appeals, the appellate court examined Indiana Code Section 4-21.5-5-13, which stipulates the means for judicial review of a final agency action and ruled that the phrase "cause for dismissal" means the General Assembly intended to empower, but not require a trial court to dismiss an appeal that doesn't follow statute requirements.

In the Meyer case, there was substantial procedural compliance by the trust and an obvious substantive error in the administrative law decision when it incorrectly determined the value of the remainder interest of a farm, wrote Judge Patricia Riley for the majority. In this case, the appellate court concluded I.C. Section 4-21.5-5-13 doesn't speak to subject matter jurisdiction, doesn't mandate automatic dismissal for procedural error, and must be read to confer the trial court discretion in some circumstances, wrote Judge Riley. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. Judge Paul Mathias dissented, writing the timely and complete filing of the agency record is a condition precedent to the acquisition of jurisdiction to consider a petition for judicial review.

In Reedus, the appellate court ruled the trial court didn't abuse its discretion for dismissing Reedus' appeal. Under Administrative Orders and Procedures Act Section 5-13, a petitioner must timely file the documents on which the agency relied in issuing the orders. Reedus argued the transcripts and exhibits he didn't submit weren't necessary for review of the decision, but it's clear from the administrative law judge's order that he relied on the testimony to make his findings. Therefore, Reedus had to file the evidence as required by the AOPA and his petition was inadequate, wrote Judge Riley. In this case, Judge Mathias concurred in result, giving similar reasoning as he did in his dissent in Meyer.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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