ILNews

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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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