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Court split over whether petition for review should be dismissed

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The dissenting judge in a case involving the dismissal of a company’s petition for judicial review of a decision by the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission believed the petition must be dismissed based on the language of the Administrative Orders and Procedures Act. The majority ordered resolution of the issue on the merits.

In Lebamoff Enterprises, Inc. v. Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, 49A02-1210-MI-826, Lebamoff Enterprises, which operates liquor stores in northern Indiana and holds a liquor dealer permit, received six citations from the ATC alleging violations of its permit stemming from the use of common carriers to transport product to customers for sales generated through fulfillment companies. Lebamoff appealed, and an administrative law judge found the company violated statute by using the common carriers. A fine was imposed and it was recommended that Lebamoff’s permit be suspended for 60 days but deferred as long as Lebamoff paid the fines and didn’t have any more violations. The ATC approved the recommendations in February 2012.

Lebamoff filed a petition for judicial review on Feb. 29, 2012, but did not file an agency record within 30 days or seek an extension. The ATC moved for dismissal, which the trial court granted in September. Lebamoff did not receive and file the certified agency record until May 2012.

Lebamoff admits it didn’t timely file the record or an extension but said it followed the spirit of the AOPA by including in its petition a statement that it would transmit the agency record within 30 days after receiving notification that the ATC prepared the record. The COA disagreed with Lebamoff that the Legislature’s intent was to permit automatic extensions. Requiring a petitioner to request and be granted an extension leaves it in the court’s hands to determine whether good cause has been shown, Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote.

“While, as outlined above, the filing of a request for extension plays a valuable role in the larger context and moreover is required by the statute, the ATC was hardly being harmed by a delay in filing the record where the ATC itself was the cause of that delay,” she wrote. “We believe the onus was on Lebamoff to file an extension, but the actions of the ATC here are of the sort that would begin to lend support to concerns that the AOPA could in some cases be a ‘trap’ for unwary litigants.”

But the majority found dismissal was not mandatory, citing Ind. Family & Soc. Servs. Admin. V. Meyer, 927 N.E.2d 367, 370-71 (Ind. 2010). Because there is a question of law regarding the interpretation of the statute as it concerns use of common carriers, and there were no disputed facts, the limited findings of the ALJ were sufficient to allow judicial review of the issue, even in the absence of the agency record, Robb wrote, ordering the case back to the trial court for resolution on the merits.

Judge Kirsch argued that the AOPA is the exclusive means for judicial review of an administrative action and the mandates of the Act as adopted by the General Assembly are clear. Lebamoff did not follow them so that failure is cause for dismissal.

 

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  1. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

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  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ...

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