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Court rules on literacy program, educational credit time

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While applauding a prison inmate for pursuing higher education while behind bars, the Indiana Court of Appeals has determined that man shouldn’t receive additional educational credit time for a program the state system doesn’t consider to fit into its definition of “literacy and life skills” programs.

Issuing a unanimous opinion today in Indiana Department of Correction v. Douglas Haley, No. 56A03-0911-CR-553, the appellate panel reversed a Newton Superior judge’s ruling that a convicted cocaine dealer should receive six months of credit time for completing a DOC life skills program, “Thinking for a Change.”

The state agency had declined his motion for that credit, arguing that it only fit one component of state statute about “basic life skills” but not another involving “literacy.” The DOC asserted a “literacy” program is a term of art originating in the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act of 1998, and that it doesn’t apply to someone pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher education at the level Haley was in this case. Though Indiana Code 35-50-6-3.3 awards two years credit time for earning a bachelor’s degree, it doesn’t permit someone to earn credit time under two different provisions for the same program of study as Haley was contending should be allowed.

Based on that language, the appellate court deferred to the DOC interpretation and found the trial judge had erred in allowing the six months of credit time.

“That does not mean that Haley is ineligible for any educational credit, however,” Judge Terry Crone wrote, noting that he could receive the two-year credit but nothing in the court record reflects that’s been applied for or received. “Haley’s argument has merit, and moreover, we applaud him for seeking and attaining such a high level of education. However, our rules of statutory construction require that we read the statute as a whole.”

The appellate court reversed the trial court judge on that issue, and also held that the prosecuting attorney isn’t authorized by statute to represent DOC in a non-criminal matter as such disputes are between an inmate and the state agency.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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