Court rules on prison disciplinary action case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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A divided Indiana Supreme Court issued a ruling on a prison discipline suit Tuesday, with one of the dissenting justices writing that the majority decision removes judicial review and violates both federal and state constitutions.

In Aaron Israel v. Indiana Department of Correction, 46S03-0706-CV-253, justices came down 3-2 on dismissing a case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Authoring Justice Frank Sullivan was joined by Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Robert Rucker. Dissenting justices were Ted Boehm and Brent Dickson.

"The majority today expands its view of the sweep of (Indiana Code section 4-21.5-2-5(6)) to eliminate court jurisdiction of any claim tangentially related to prisoner discipline," Justice Boehm wrote, noting a 2005 decision in Blanck v. Indiana DOC that effectively eliminated judicial review on inmate disciplinary actions. "This is contrary to precedent and, I submit, cannot be correct."

Justice Boehm goes on to write that as interpreted by the majority, the statute violates both state and federal constitutions in that it goes against the openness of courts to all people.

"Even if the State's interest in avoiding mass inmate litigation over DOC disciplinary actions is compelling, the majority's reading of the statute insulates even illegal discipline from judicial review and denies access to the courts to assert conventional claims such as Israel's breach of contract," he wrote. "If read this broadly, the statute is not narrowly tailored to vindicate the state's interest."

While Justice Rucker agreed with the majority here, he wrote in a paragraph concurrence that he thinks Blanck was wrongly decided - a reason why he wrote separately.

"But Blanck and the authority on which it rests, is now settled law, namely: the enforcement of prison disciplinary sanctions are not subject to judicial review," he wrote.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues