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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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